Body Defenses and Fighting Infection

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Chapter: Anatomy and Physiology for Health Professionals: Lymphatic System and Immunity

The human body has multiple defense mechanisms that work together to provide resistance, which is the ability to fight disease, illness, and infection.


Body Defenses and Fighting Infection

The human body has multiple defense mechanisms that work together to provide resistance, which is the ability to fight disease, illness, and infection. An infec-tion may be caused by the presence and multiplication of a disease-causing agent or pathogen, which can be a virus, bacterium, fungus, or protozoan. Body defenses can be divided into two general categories: innate or nonspecific and adaptive or specific defenses. Innate(nonspecific) defense defends against many dif-ferent types of pathogens. This type of defense, which is present­ at birth, includes mechanicalbarriers, chemical barriers, NK cells, inflammation,phagocytosis­, fever, and species resistance.

Specific defenses are more precise and target specific pathogens to provide adaptive (specific)defense or immunity. In this type of defense, spe-cialized lymphocytes recognize foreign molecules and act against them. Both innate and adaptive defense mechanisms work together to fight infection. Innate defenses act more rapidly than adaptive defenses. Spe-cific defenses depend on the activity of lymphocytes (FIGURE 20-8).



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