Defense Mechanisms of the Body
A Miniglossary of Cells and Chemical Mediators Involved in Immune Functions
Acute phase proteins
Group of proteins secreted by the liver during systemic response to injury or infection; stimulus for their secretion
is IL-1, IL-6, and other cytokines.
Immunoglobulins secreted by plasma cells; combine with the type of antigen that stimulated their production and direct an
attack against the antigen or a cell bearing it.
The ﬁ rst protein in the classical complement pathway.
A general name given to any chemical mediator that stimulates chemotaxis of neutrophils or other leukocytes.
Any cytokine that functions as a chemoattractant.
A synonym for chemoattractant.
A group of plasma proteins that, upon activation, kill microbes directly and facilitate the various steps of the inﬂ
process, including phagocytosis; the classical complement pathway is triggered by antigen-antibody complexes, whereas the alternate
pathway can operate independently of antibody.
One of several proteins that function as nonspeciﬁ c opsonins; production by the liver is increased during the acute
General term for protein messengers that regulate immune responses; secreted by macrophages, monocytes, lymphocytes,
neutrophils, and several nonimmune cell types; function both locally and as hormones.
General term for products of arachidonic acid metabolism (prostaglandins, thromboxanes, leukotrienes); function as
An inﬂ ammatory mediator secreted mainly by mast cells; acts on microcirculation to cause vasodilation and increased
permeability to protein.
The class of antibodies secreted by the lining of the body’s various “tracts.”
A class of antibodies whose function is unknown.
The class of antibodies that mediate immediate hypersensitivity and resistance to parasites.
The most abundant class of plasma antibodies.
A class of antibodies that is produced ﬁ rst in all immune responses. Along with IgG, it provides the bulk of speciﬁ c humoral
immunity against bacteria and viruses.
Proteins that function as B-cell receptors and antibodies; the ﬁ ve major classes are IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG, and IgM.
Group of cytokines that nonspeciﬁ
cally inhibits viral replication; interferon-gamma also stimulates the killing ability of NK
cells and macrophages.
Interleukin 1 (IL-1)
Cytokine secreted by macrophages (and other cells) that activates helper T cells, exerts many inﬂ
effects, and mediates many of the systemic acute phase responses, including fever.
Interleukin 2 (IL-2)
Cytokine secreted by activated helper T cells that causes helper T cells, cytotoxic T cells, and NK cells to
proliferate, and causes activation of macrophages.
Interleukin 6 (IL-6)
Cytokine secreted by macrophages (and other cells) that exerts multiple effects on immune system cells,
inﬂ ammation, and the acute phase response.
Peptides that split from kininogens in inﬂ amed areas and facilitate the vascular changes associated with inﬂ ammation; they also
activate neuronal pain receptors.
A class of eicosanoids that are generated by the lipoxygenase pathway and function as inﬂ
Membrane attack complex (MAC)
Group of complement proteins that form channels in the surface of a microbe, making it leaky and
Antibodies to the erythrocyte antigens (of the A or B type).
General name given to any chemical mediator that promotes phagocytosis.
Protein secreted by cytotoxic T cells and NK cells that forms channels in the plasma membrane of the target cell, making it
leaky and killing it; its structure and function are similar to that of the MAC in the complement system.
Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)
Cytokine secreted by macrophages (and other cells) that has many of the same actions as IL-1.