Definition (and Description)
Antigens are antibody generators, any foreign material which is recognized by the body as foreign and causes the production of antibodies.
Antigens can be bacteria, viruses, toxins, or foreign nonself materials. A molecular part of a microorganism or foreign material that is recognized by immune cells is the part which is called antigen. Certain cells of the immune system (B and T lymphocytes) recognize antigen by their specific receptors. B cells (matured in the bone marrow) are the immune cells that recognize antigen via their surface receptors or antibody. T cells (matured in the thymus) recognize antigen via their T-cell receptor, but only after antigens have been processed into smaller peptides by antigen-presenting immune cells. Vaccines work by presenting a dead or altered form of an antigen to the immune system in order to provoke a response.
References and Further Readings
- Goldsby, R. A., Kindt, T. J., Osborne, B. A., & Kuby, J. (2003). Immunology (5th ed.). New York: W.H. Freeman.Google Scholar