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10-Part Immune System Series: Introduction

Key Topics: Epigenetics
January 29, 2018 • 3 min read
Summary

The immune system protects the body from infection and disease throughout life. The ability to respond to pathogens is unique to each individual.

The immune system protects the body from infection and disease throughout life. The ability of an individual to respond to foreign substances and pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi is unique to each individual due to the complex nature of the two principal components of the immune system:

  1. Innate immune response
  2. Acquired immune response

Each individual has unique exposure to foreign substances and pathogenic microorganisms from the environment. As a result, the immune system of every person is unique, even though their cells, tissues, and organs have the same immune machinery to respond to challenges.

The focus of the “Immune System Series” is to briefly review the immune system components and integrate selected nutritional and epigenetic components that contribute to the immune system. The field of immunonutrition is a rapidly emerging science that continues to evolve as scientists learn more about the basic physiology of the complex immune system and the interplay of nutritional components to influence the outcome of challenges.

The immune system is constantly responding to challenges from the environment yet, there are events in which the immune system attacks the body in a destructive process (autoimmunity) rather than the initial pathogenic insult. The immune system mounts a vigorous response to both infectious and non-infectious agents in order to maintain homeostasis of the inflammatory process, and optimize the return to a normal physiological state.

The “Immune System Series” will review the general role of the immune system in protecting the body from environmental insults and identify the key components engaged in the innate and acquired immune response:

  1. The innate and acquired immune responses emphasize how the immune system works and responds to antigenic stimuli and pathogens, highlighting T-cell regulatory cells, autoimmunity, oral tolerance, macrophage activation, cytokine proteins, and acute phase proteins, antigens, and antibodies.
  2. Controls within the immune system cascade include the integration of the innate and acquired immune responses, emphasizing the role of microRNA (miRNA) in controlling various epigenetic aspects of immune function.
  3. There are strategies to support gut health and targeted intestinal dysbiosis.
  4. Aging, exercise, and diet play a role in immune function, and inflammation is associated with aging.

Nutritional factors support immune system function and engage the inflammatory response to environmental challenges:

  1. DNA, RNA, nucleotides and nucleic acids, and nutritional components
  2. Omega-3 fatty acids and resolvins and gut microbiota
  3. miRNA and microparticles that contain morphogens

Overview of the Immune System Series

Part 1: Innate and Acquired Immune Responses

  • Innate Immune System: Ready to Go as a First Responder in Immune Protection
  • Barriers of Infection in the Innate Immune System
  • Circulating Soluble Factors – Complement – Support First Responders
  • The Acquired Immune System: Develops with Pathogen Exposure

Part 2: Antigen-Antibody Binding and Effector Cytokine and Chemokine Response

  • Activation of B Cells to Make Antibody -Recognize Class II MHC Markers
  • Activation of T Cells: Helper (Recognize Class II MHC Markers)
  • Activation of T Cells: Cytotoxic (Recognize Class 1 MHC Markers)
  • Regulatory T Cells
  • Implications of the Antigen-Antibody Process for Future Clinical Application

Part 3: Differences between an Antigen and a Pathogen

  • Streptococcus – a bacterial pathogen
  • Lyme Disease – a tick-borne bacterial infection
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) Proteins (Class I or Class II) Dictate the Subsequent Engagement of the Innate Immune System and Trigger Different Responses
  • A Dysfunctional MHC HLA Complex May Predispose Individuals to Autoimmune Disease

Part 4: Autoimmunity

Part 5: Nutrition is Essential for a Healthy Immune System

Part 6: MicroRNA Non-Protein Coding Sequence

  • MicroRNAs (miRNAs) Regulate Gene Expression and Immune Function
  • miRNA May be Delivered to Other Cells via Microparticles
  • Microparticles That Contain Cytokines are Involved in the Initiation and Resolution of Inflammation
  • Microparticles Involved in Immune Response Contain Morphogens that May be Involved in Wound Repair
  • miRNA is Involved in the Regulation of Many Cellular Processes
  • Dietary miRNAs are bioavailable from plants and foods of animal origin
  • miRNA Variants are Epigenetic Regulators in Cardiovascular Diseases
  • miRNA is a Crucial Regulator of Innate and Adaptive Immune System Function and Autoimmune Disease
  • MicroRNAs Are Regulators of Cancer Related Immunity in Solid Tumors

Part 7: Oral Tolerance to Foods

Part 8: Strategies to Support Gut Health

Part 9: The Role of Aging, Exercise, and Diet in Immune Function

Part 10: Implications for Clinicians in Support of a Healthy Immune System

Read part 1 of the Immune System Series: Innate and Acquired Immune Responses.

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