The immune system – both natural and acquired – is important for optimal health. But what exactly does acquired immunity consist of? How will it strengthen over time? Resolving these doubts is important for enjoying a healthy life. Keep reading and we’ll tell you more.
Persistent flu, recurrent fever, and bacterial infections can be a sign of a weakened immune system. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAI), more than three bacterial sinusitis or more than two courses of antibiotics each year are a sign of an immune problem.
There are three types of protective barriers in the human body:
- Primary barriers. According to several studies, the skin is the first restraining barrier against potential disease-causing diseases. Lipids and keratin are substances that make the blood skin a real barrier wall against viruses and bacteria.
- Secondary barriers. When the primary remedy fails, neutrophils and macrophages (white blood cells) are responsible for destroying and surrounding the pathogens. This phenomenon is known as phagocytosis and is a clear example of a secondary barrier.
- Tertiary barriers. T and B lymphocytes recognize many disease-induced structures and effectively destroy or alter their activity.
Separating biological barriers is important. It helps us understand that when we talk about acquired immunity, it is a tertiary barrier.
What does acquired immunity mean?
As you can see, acquired immunity is determined by specialized cells and the systemic process by which disease-threatening threats are eliminated. According to a series of books specializing in immunology, this system is unique to vertebrates.
Its job is to identify the bacteria in a certain way in order to fight them quickly and effectively. While this may be surprising, it can be said that this biological barrier has a memory as the efficiency of responding to the same pathogen increases.
Acquired immunity: what it consists of
The Effectors of this protective system are T and B lymphocytes (blood leukocytes). They arise separately in the thymus and bone marrow.
Acquired immunity cannot be understood without innate immunity. As several sources indicate, the innate system of cells processes antigens (components of viruses and bacteria) and presents them to lymphocytes. Thus, they are able to function in the right way.
In order not to complicate matters too much, we limit the importance of lymphocytes to the following:
- Each lymphocyte has a receptor for all antigens presented by the pathogen.
- This knowledge doubles as each cell is re-created and creates an even more effective defense system against each wave of infection.
Symptoms caused by a weakened immune system
As we stated at the beginning of the article, several symptoms can be suspected when acquired immunity does not work as desired. Such signs include:
- More than two courses of antibiotics during the year.
- More than four ear infections each year.
- Two cases of pneumonia in the short term.
- Three or more chronic sinus infections each year.
- The need to use preventative antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection.
- Development of serious infections from common Bacterial diseases.
If these requirements are met, the patient must undergo an immediate medical examination. The immunologist checks the results and diagnoses the underlying cause of immunosuppression.
How is acquired immunity obtained?
Thus, the most effective way to strengthen this tertiary barrier is exposure to disease. However, this does not mean that you want to get sick, as vaccinations already serve this purpose.
According to the World Health Organization, vaccinations are products that contain attenuated or dead forms of harmful microbes. They promote the stimulation of antibodies (lymphocytes at the receptors mentioned above) when they enter the human body.
The acquired immune system responds to these stimuli as they destroy and remember the potential threats in vaccinations. However, they do not cause real harm to the patient. Thus, when the right pathogen enters the body, the lymphocytes recognize it immediately before the onset of infection.
Acquired immunity: things to keep in mind
Acquired immunity is an extremely important tertiary biological barrier. It repeatedly protects people from numerous pathogens. It is therefore important to know the vaccination system in your country and region and to follow it properly.
Vaccinations not only protect people by strengthening their acquired immune system. They also create a kind of herd immunity that provides protection for the weakest and sickest people.
Thanks for reading this article.