Immunology teaching objectives



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Immunology

  • TEACHING OBJECTIVES

  • To describe the basis of cellular defense

  • To describe the nature of antigen-antibody reactions

  • To compare and contrast antibody affinity and avidity

  • To delineate the basis for antibody specificity and cross reactivity

  • To discuss the principles of commonly used tests for antigen/antibody reactions


Types of Immuity

  • Non-specific (innate) Immunity

    • Body’s response is effective against a variety of “attackers”
    • Involves antimicrobial cells and proteins
  • •Specific (acquired) Immunity

    • Body’s response is tailored for a specific “attacker”
    • Involves antibodies


Non-Specific Immunity

  • Mediated by host cells

    • Phagocytosis (by phagocytes)
    • Non-phagocytic cells
  • Mediated by host proteins

    • Complement system
    • Interferons
  • Each of these play a role following a microbial infection and/or a wound to tissue.



Non-specific Immunity-Phagocytosis

  • Phagocytosis Def: Ingestion of infecting microbes by phagocytic white blood cells (i.e., leukocytes)

  • Neutrophils – short-lived; 60-70% of leukocytes

  • Macrophages – long-lived; develop from monocytes



Phagocytosis



Non-phagocytic Cells Killing is by means other than phagocytosis

  • Eosinophils or Eosinophil granulocytes, usually called eosinophils (or, less commonly, acidophils), are white blood cells that are one of the immune system components responsible for combating infection and parasites in vertebrates.



Non-phagocytic Cells

  • Natural Killer (NK) Cells – destroy infected cells or precancerous cells by destroying the cell membrane



Interferons

  • Interferons (IFNs) are natural proteins produced by the cells of the immune system of most vertebrates in response to challenges by foreign agents such as viruses, parasites and tumor cells.

  • Interferons belong to the large class of glycoproteins known as cytokines.

  • Interferons are produced by a wide variety of cells in response to the presence of double-stranded RNA, a key indicator of viral infection.

  • Interferons assist the immune response by inhibiting viral replication within host cells, activating natural killer cells and macrophages, increasing antigen presentation to lymphocytes, and inducing the resistance of host cells to viral infection.



Specific Immunity - Antibody-Antigen Interaction

  • Antigen - any agent capable of eliciting an immune response

    • Isolated molecules
    • Molecules on surface of cell or virus
  • A specific antibody molecule will be able to recognize a specific epitope of an antigen

    • Antibody binds to antigen


Antibody Structure

  • There are 5 classes of human antibodies: IgG, IgM, IgA, IgD, and IgE. The simplest antibodies, such as IgG, IgD, and IgE, are "Y"-shaped macromolecules called monomers .

  • A monomer is composed of four glycoprotein chains: two identical heavy chains and two identical light chains . The two heavy chains have a high molecular weight that varies with the class of antibody.

  • The four glycoprotein chains are connected to one another by disulfide (S-S) bonds and noncovalent bonds.



Antibody Structure



NATURE OF ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • A. Lock and Key Concept - The combining site of an antibody is located in the Fab portion of the molecule and is constructed from the hypervariable regions of the heavy and light chains.

  • X-Ray crystallography studies of antigens (Ag) and antibodies (Ab) interacting shows that the antigenic determinant nestles in a cleft formed by the combining site. Thus, our concept of Ag-Ab reactions is one of a key (i.e. the Ag) which fits into a lock (i.e. the Ab).



NATURE OF ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • B. Non-covalent Bonds - The bonds that hold the Ag in the antibody combining site are all non-covalent in nature. These include hydrogen bonds, electrostatic bonds, Van der Waals forces and hydrophobic bonds. Multiple bonding between the Ag and the Ab ensures that the Ag will be bound tightly to the Ab.

  • C. Reversible - Since Ag-Ab reactions occur via non-covalent bonds, they are by their nature reversible.



NATURE OF ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • Antibody Structure

  • Additional S-S bonds fold the individual glycoprotein chains into a number of distinct globular domains. The area where the top of the "Y" joins the bottom is called the hinge. This area is flexible to enable the antibody to bind to pairs of epitopes various distances apart on an antigen.



NATURE OF ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • Antibody Structure

  • Treating the antibody with a protease can cleave this region, producing Fab or fragment antigen binding that include the variable ends of an antibody.

  • The first 110 amino acids or first domain of both the heavy and light chain of the Fab region of the antibody provide specificity for binding an epitope on an antigen.



NATURE OF ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • Antibody Structure

  • The amino acid sequence of the first domain of both the light chain and the heavy chain shows tremendous variation from antibody to antibody and constitutes the variable domains of the antibody.

  • This is because each B-lymphocyte, early in its development, becomes genetically programmed through a series of gene-splicing reactions to produce a Fab with a unique 3-dimensional shape capable of fitting some epitope with a corresponding shape.



NATURE OF ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • Figure 2



NATURE OF ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • The various genes the cell splices together determine the order of amino acids of the Fab portion of both the light and heavy chain; the amino acid sequence determines the final 3-dimensional shape.

  • Therefore, different antibody molecules produced by different B-lymphocytes will have different orders of amino acids at the tips of the Fab to give them unique shapes for binding epitope.

  • The antigen-binding site is large enough to hold an epitope of about 5-7 amino acids or 3-4 sugar residues.



NATURE OF ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS



NATURE OF ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • The bottom part of the "Y", the C terminal region of each glycoprotein chain, is called the Fc portion. The Fc portion, as well as one domain of both the heavy and light chain of the Fab region has a constant amino acid sequence that defines the class and subclass of each antibody. The Fc portion is responsible for the biological activity of the antibody.



NATURE OF ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • AFFINITY AND AVIDITY

  • A. Affinity - Antibody affinity is the strength of the reaction between a single antigenic determinant and a single combining site on the antibody. It is the sum of the attractive and repulsive forces operating between the antigenic determinant and the combining site of the antibody as illustrated in Figure 4.

    • Affinity is the equilibrium constant that describes the Ag-Ab reaction as illustrated in Figure 5. Most antibodies have a high affinity for their antigens.


NATURE OF ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS



NATURE OF ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • B. Avidity - Avidity is a measure of the overall strength of binding of an antigen with many antigenic determinants and multivalent antibodies.

    • Affinity refers to the strength of binding between a single antigenic determinant and an individual antibody combining site whereas avidity refers to the overall strength of binding between multivalent antigens and antibodies.
    • Avidity is influenced by both the valence of the antibody and the valence of the antigen. Avidity is more than the sum of the individual affinities. This is illustrated in the on the next page.


NATURE OF ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS



NATURE OF ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • SPECIFICITY AND CROSS REACTIVITY

  • Specificity - Specificity refers to the ability of an individual antibody combining site to react with only one antigenic determinant or the ability of a population of antibody molecules to react with only one antigen.

  • In general, there is a high degree of specificity in Ag-Ab reactions. Antibodies can distinguish differences in

    • 1) the primary structure of an antigen
    • 2) isomeric forms of an antigen
    • 3) secondary and tertiary structure of an antigen.


NATURE OF ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • Cross reactivity - Cross reactivity refers to the ability of an individual antibody combining site to react with more than one antigenic determinant or the ability of a population of antibody molecules to react with more than one antigen. The figure below illustrates how cross reactions can arise. Cross reactions arise because the cross reacting antigen shares an epitope in common with the immunizing antigen or because it has an epitope which is structurally similar to one on the immunizing antigen (multispecificity).



TESTS FOR ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • Factors affecting measurement of Ag/Ab reactions

  • The only way that one knows that an antigen-antibody reaction has occurred is to have some means of directly or indirectly detecting the complexes formed between the antigen and antibody. The ease with which one can detect antigen-antibody reactions will depend on a number of factors.

  • 1. Affinity - The higher the affinity of the antibody for the antigen, the more stable will be the interaction. Thus, the ease with which one can detect the interaction is enhanced.

  • 2. Avidity - Reactions between multivalent antigens and multivalent antibodies are more stable and thus easier to detect.   Figure 6



NATURE OF ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • 3. Ag:Ab ratio - The ratio between the antigen and antibody influences the detection of Ag/Ab complexes because the sizes of the complexes formed is related to the concentration of the antigen and antibody. This is depicted in Figure 6.

  • 4. Physical form of the antigen - The physical form of the antigen influences how one detects its reaction with an antibody. If the antigen is a particulate, one generally looks for agglutination of the antigen by the antibody. If the antigen is soluble one generally looks for the precipitation of the antigen after the production of large insoluble Ag/Ab complexes. Figure 7



TESTS FOR ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • Agglutination Tests

  • Agglutination/Hemagglutination - When the antigen is particulate the reaction of an antibody with the antigen can be detected by agglutination (clumping) of the antigen. When the antigen is an erythrocyte the term hemagglutination is used.

  • The term agglutinin is used to describe antibodies that agglutinate particulate antigens. When the antigen is an erythrocyte the term hemagglutinin is often used. All antibodies can theoretically agglutinate particulate antigens but IgM due to its high valence is particularly good agglutinin and one sometimes infers that an antibody may be of the IgM class if it is a good agglutinating antibody.



TESTS FOR ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • Agglutination Tests

  • When the antigen is particulate, the reaction of an antibody with the antigen can be detected by agglutination (clumping) of the antigen. The general term agglutinin is used to describe antibodies that agglutinate particulate antigens.

  • When the antigen is an erythrocyte the term hemagglutination is used. All antibodies can theoretically agglutinate particulate antigens but IgM, due to its high valence, is particularly good agglutinin and one sometimes infers that an antibody may be of the IgM class if it is a good agglutinating antibody.

  • Qualitative agglutination test - Agglutination tests can be used in a qualitative manner to assay for the presence of an antigen or an antibody. The antibody is mixed with the particulate antigen and a positive test is indicated by the agglutination of the particulate antigen.



TESTS FOR ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • For example, a patient's red blood cells can be mixed with antibody to a blood group antigen to determine a person's blood type.

  • In a second example, a patient's serum is mixed with red blood cells of a known blood type to assay for the presence of antibodies to that blood type in the patient's serum.



TESTS FOR ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • Quantitative agglutination test

  • Agglutination tests can also be used to measure the level of antibodies to particulate antigens. In this test, serial dilutions are made of a sample to be tested for antibody and then a fixed number of red blood cells or bacteria or other such particulate antigen is added.

  • Then the maximum dilution that gives agglutination is determined. The maximum dilution that gives visible agglutination is called the titer. The results are reported as the reciprocal of the maximal dilution that gives visible agglutination. Figure 8 illustrates a quantitative hemagglutination test.



TESTS FOR ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • What are Pos and Neg?

  • What does titer mean?



TESTS FOR ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • Pos and Neg are controls

  • Titer – measure of concentration



TESTS FOR ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • Radioimmunoassay (RIA)/Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA)

  • Radioimmunoassays (RIA) are assays that are based on the measurement of radioactivity associated with immune complexes.

    • In any particular test, the label may be on either the antigen or the antibody.
  • Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISA) are those that are based on the measurement of an enzymatic reaction associated with immune complexes.

    • In any particular assay, the enzyme may be linked to either the antigen or the antibody.


TESTS FOR ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • Competitive RIA/ELISA for Ag Detection

  • The method and principle of RIA and ELISA for the measurement of antigen is shown below.



TESTS FOR ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • Noncompetitive RIA/ELISA for Ag or Ab

  • Noncompetitive RIA and ELISAs are also used for the measurement of antigens and antibodies.

  • As seen in the figure below, the bead is coated with the antigen and is used for the detection of antibody in the unknown sample. The amount of labeled second antibody bound is related to the amount of antibody in the unknown sample.



TESTS FOR ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • Noncompetitive RIA/ELISA for Ag or Ab

  • This assay is commonly employed for the measurement of antibodies of the IgE class directed against particular allergens by using a known allergen as antigen and anti-IgE antibodies as the labeled reagent.



TESTS FOR ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • Flow Cytometry

  • Flow cytometry is commonly used in the clinical laboratory to identify and enumerate cells bearing a particular antigen. Cells in suspension are labeled with a fluorescent tag by either direct or indirect immunofluorescence. The cells are then analyzed on the flow cytometer.



TESTS FOR ANTIGEN-ANTIBODY REACTIONS

  • The type of data that is obtained from the flow cytometer is shown below.

  • In a one parameter histogram, increasing amount of fluorescence (e.g. green fluorescence) is plotted on the x axis and the number of cells exhibiting that amount of fluorescence is plotted on the y axis.



Immunology

  • Information taken from the following websites:

  • http://pathmicro.med.sc.edu/mayer/ab-ag-rx.htm

  • http://www.biology.arizona.edu/IMMUNOLOGY/tutorials/antibody/structure.html

  • http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/vlabs/immunology/index.html (this last site is a virtual ELISA activity)


























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