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Types of Circulatory Systems |B system, the lymphatic circulation, collects fluid and

cells and returns them to the cardiovascular system.


Living things must be capable of transporting
nutrients, wastes and gases to and from cells. Single- Vertebrate Cardiovascular System |
celled organisms use their cell surface as a point of
exchange with the outside environment. Multicellular The vertebrate cardiovascular system includes a
organisms have developed transport and circulatory heart, which is a muscular pump that contracts to
systems to deliver oxygen and food to cells and propel blood out to the body through arteries, and a
remove carbon dioxide and metabolic wastes. series of blood vessels. The upper chamber of the
Sponges are the simplest animals, yet even they have heart, the atrium (pl. atria), is where the blood enters
a transport system. Seawater is the medium of the heart. Passing through a valve, blood enters the
transport and is propelled in and out of the sponge by lower chamber, the ventricle. Contraction of the
ciliary action. Simple animals, such as the hydra and ventricle forces blood from the heart through
planaria (shown in Figure 1), lack specialized organs an artery. The heart muscle is composed of cardiac
such as hearts and blood vessels, instead using their muscle cells.
skin as an exchange point for materials. This,
however, limits the size an animal can attain. To
Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from
become larger, they need specialized organs and
heart. Arterial walls are able to expand and contract.
organ systems.Multicellular animals do not have Arteries have three layers of thick walls. Smooth
most of their cells in contact with the external muscle fibers contract, another layer of connective
environment and so have developed circulatory
tissue is quite elastic, allowing the arteries to carry
systems to transport nutrients, oxygen, carbon
blood under high pressure. A diagram of arterial
dioxide and metabolic wastes. Components of the
structure is shown in Figure 3.
circulatory system include
The aorta is the main artery leaving the heart.
blood: a connective tissue of liquid plasma The pulmonary artery is the only artery that carries
and cells oxygen-poor blood. The pulmonary artery carries
heart: a muscular pump to move the blood deoxygenated blood to the lungs. In the lungs, gas
blood vessels: arteries, capillaries and veins exchange occurs, carbon dioxide diffuses out, oxygen
that deliver blood to all tissues diffuses in. Arterioles are small arteries that connect
larger arteries with capillaries. Small arterioles
There are several types of circulatory systems. branch into collections of capillaries known as
The open circulatory system, examples of which are capillary beds, an exampe of one is shown in Figure
diagrammed in Figure 2, is common to molluscs and 4.
arthropods. Open circulatory systems (evolved in
insects, mollusks and other invertebrates) pump Capillaries, shown in Figures 4 and 5, are thin-walled
blood into a hemocoel with the blood diffusing back blood vessels in which gas exchange occurs. In the
to the circulatory system between cells. Blood is capillary, the wall is only one cell layer thick.
pumped by a heart into the body cavities, where Capillaries are concentrated into capillary beds. Some
tissues are surrounded by the blood. The resulting capillaries have small pores between the cells of the
blood flow is sluggish. capillary wall, allowing materials to flow in and out
of capillaries as well as the passage of white blood
Vertebrates, and a few invertebrates, have a closed cells. Changes in blood pressure also occur in the
circulatory system, shown in Figure 2. Closed various vessels of the circulatory system, as shown in
circulatory systems (evolved in echinoderms and Figure 6. Nutrients, wastes, and hormones are
vertebrates) have the blood closed at all times within exchanged across the thin walls of capillaries.
vessels of different size and wall thickness. In this Capillaries are microscopic in size, although blushing
type of system, blood is pumped by a heart through is one manifestation of blood flow into capillaries.
vessels, and does not normally fill body cavities. Control of blood flow into capillary beds is done by
Blood flow is not sluggish. Hemoglobin causes nerve-controlled sphincters.
vertebrate blood to turn red in the presence of
oxygen; but more importantly hemoglobin molecules The circulatory system functions in the delivery of
in blood cells transport oxygen. The human closed oxygen, nutrient molecules, and hormones and the
circulatory system is sometimes called the removal of carbon dioxide, ammonia and other
cardiovascular system. A secondary circulatory metabolic wastes. Capillaries are the points of
exchange between the blood and surrounding tissues. pulmonary capillary beds, where gas exchange
Materials cross in and out of the capillaries by occurs. Blood then is returned to the heart. Blood
passing through or between the cells that line the exiting the ventricle is diverted, some to
capillary, as shown in Figure 7. the pulmonary circuit, some to systemic circuit. The
disadvantage of the three-chambered heart is the
The extensive network of capillaries in the human mixing of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood. Some
body is estimated at between 50,000 and 60,000 reptiles have partial separation of the ventricle. Other
miles long. Thoroughfare channels allow blood to reptiles, plus, all birds and mammals, have a four-
bypass a capillary bed. These channels can open and chambered heart, with complete separation of both
close by the action of muscles that control blood flow systemic and pulmonary circuits.
through the channels, as shown in Figure 8.
The Heart |
Blood leaving the capillary beds flows into a
progressively larger series of venules that in turn join The heart, shown in Figure 11, is a muscular structure
to form veins. Veins carry blood from capillaries to that contracts in a rhythmic pattern to pump blood.
the heart. With the exception of the pulmonary veins, Hearts have a variety of forms: chambered hearts in
blood in veins is oxygen-poor. The pulmonary veins mollusks and vertebrates, tubular hearts of
carry oxygenated blood from lungs back to the arthropods, and aortic arches of annelids. Accessory
heart. Venules are smaller veins that gather blood hearts are used by insects to boost or supplement the
from capillary beds into veins. Pressure in veins is main heart's actions. Fish, reptiles, and amphibians
low, so veins depend on nearby muscular havelymph hearts that help pump lymph back into
contractions to move blood along. The veins have veins.
valves that prevent back-flow of blood, as shown in
Figure 9. The basic vertebrate heart, such as occurs in fish, has
two chambers. An auricle is the chamber of the heart
Ventricular contraction propels blood into arteries where blood is received from the body. A ventricle
under great pressure. Blood pressure is measured in pumps the blood it gets through a valve from the
mm of mercury; healthy young adults should have auricle out to the gills through an artery.
pressure of ventricular systole of 120mm, and 80 mm
at ventricular diastole. Higher pressures (human Amphibians have a three-chambered heart: two atria
120/80 as compared to a 12/1 in lobsters) mean the emptying into a single common ventricle. Some
volume of blood circulates faster (20 seconds in species have a partial separation of the ventricle to
humans, 8 minutes in lobsters). reduce the mixing of oxygenated (coming back from
the lungs) and deoxygenated blood (coming in from
As blood gets farther from the heart, the pressure the body). Two sided or two chambered hearts permit
likewise decreases. Each contraction of the ventricles pumping at higher pressures and the addition of the
sends pressure through the arteries. Elasticity of pulmonary loop permits blood to go to the lungs at
lungs helps keep pulmonary pressures low. lower pressure yet still go to the systemic loop at
higher pressures.
Systemic pressure is sensed by receptors in the
arteries and atria. Nerve messages from these sensors Pulmonary and systemic circuits, completely
communicate conditions to the medulla in the brain. separates oxygenated from deoxygenated blood. This
Signals from the medulla regulate blood pressure. allows higher the metabolic rates needed by warm-
blooded birds and mammals.
Vertebrate Vascular Systems |
The human heart is a two-sided, four-chambered
Humans, birds, and mammals have a four-chambered structure with muscular walls. An atrioventricular
heart that completely separates oxygen-rich and (AV) valve separates each auricle from ventricle.
oxygen-depleted blood, as is shown in Figure 10. A semilunar (also known as arterial) valve separates
Fish have a two-chambered heart in which a single- each ventricle from its connecting artery.
loop circulatory pattern takes blood from the heart to
the gills and then to the body. Amphibians have a The heart beats or contracts approximately 70 times
three-chambered heart with two atria and one per minute. The human heart will undergo over 3
ventricle. A loop from the heart goes to the billion contraction cycles, as shown in Figure 12,
during a normal lifetime. Thecardiac cycle consists of contraction pulses that pass over the surface of the
two parts: systole (contraction of the heart muscle) heart. There are three slow, negative changes, known
and diastole (relaxation of the heart muscle). Atria as P, R, and T as shown in Figure 15 . Positive
contract while ventricles relax. The pulse is a wave of deflections are the Q and S waves. The P wave
contraction transmitted along the arteries. Valves in represents the contraction impulse of the atria, the T
the heart open and close during the cardiac cycle. wave the ventricular contraction. ECGs are useful in
Heart muscle contraction is due to the presence of diagnosing heart abnormalities.
nodal tissue in two regions of the heart. The SA node
(sinoatrial node) initiates heartbeat. The AV node Diseases of the Heart and Cardiovascular System
(atrioventricular node) causes ventricles to contract.
The AV node is sometimes called the pacemaker
Cardiac muscle cells are serviced by a system
since it keeps heartbeat regular. Heartbeat is also
of coronary arteries. During exercise the flow
controlled by nerve messages originating from the
through these arteries is up to five times normal flow.
autonomic nervous system. Blocked flow in coronary arteries can result in death
of heart muscle, leading to a heart attack.
Blood flows through the heart from veins to atria to
ventricles out by arteries. Heart valves limit flow to a
Blockage of coronary arteries, shown in Figure 16, is
single direction. One heartbeat, or cardiac cycle,
usually the result of gradual buildup of lipids and
includes atrial contraction and relaxation, ventricular cholesterol in the inner wall of the coronary artery.
contraction and relaxation, and a short pause. Normal Occasional chest pain, angina pectoralis, can result
cardiac cycles (at rest) take 0.8 seconds. Blood from
during periods of stress or physical
the body flows into the vena cava, which empties into
exertion. Angina indicates oxygen demands are
the right atrium. At the same time, oxygenated blood
greater than capacity to deliver it and that a heart
from the lungs flows from the pulmonary vein into
attack may occur in the future. Heart muscle cells
the left atrium. The muscles of both atria contract, that die are not replaced since heart muscle cells do
forcing blood downward through each AV valve into
not divide. Heart disease and coronary artery disease
each ventricle.
are the leading causes of death in the United States.

Diastole is the filling of the ventricles with blood. Hypertension, high blood pressure (the silent killer),
Ventricular systole opens the SL valves, forcing occurs when blood pressure is consistently above
blood out of the ventricles through the pulmonary
140/90. Causes in most cases are unknown, although
artery or aorta. The sound of the heart contracting
stress, obesity, high salt intake, and smoking can add
and the valves opening and closing produces a
to a genetic predisposition. Luckily, when diagnosed,
characteristic "lub-dub" sound. Lub is associated with
the condition is usually treatable with medicines and
closure of the AV valves, dub is the closing of the SL diet/exercise.
valves.
The Vascular System | Back to Top
Human heartbeats originate from the sinoatrial node
(SA node) near the right atrium. Modified muscle
cells contract, sending a signal to other muscle cells Two main routes for circulation are the pulmonary
in the heart to contract. The signal spreads to the (to and from the lungs) and the systemic (to and from
atrioventricular node (AV node). Signals carried from the body). Pulmonary arteries carry blood from the
the AV node, slightly delayed, through bundle of His heart to the lungs. In the lungs gas exchange occurs.
fibers and Purkinjie fibers cause the ventricles to Pulmonary veins carry blood from lungs to heart. The
contract simultaneously. Figure 13 illustrates several aorta is the main artery of systemic circuit. The vena
aspects of this. cavae are the main veins of the systemic
circuit.Coronary arteries deliver oxygenated blood,
food, etc. to the heart. Animals often have a portal
Heartbeats are coordinated contractions of heart
system, which begins and ends in capillaries, such as
cardiac cells, shown in an animate GIF image in
between the digestive tract and the liver.
Figure 14. When two or more of such cells are in
proximity to each other their contractions synch up
and they beat as one. Fish pump blood from the heart to their gills, where
gas exchange occurs, and then on to the rest of the
body. Mammals pump blood to the lungs for gas
An electrocardiogram (ECG) measures changes in
exchange, then back to the heart for pumping out to
electrical potential across the heart, and can detect the
the systemic circulation. Blood flows in only one Platelets result from cell fragmentation and are
direction. involved with clotting, as is shown by Figures 17 and
18. Platelets are cell fragments that bud off
Blood | Back to Top megakaryocytes in bone marrow. They carry
chemicals essential to blood clotting. Platelets
survive for 10 days before being removed by the liver
Plasma is the liquid component of the blood.
and spleen. There are 150,000 to 300,000 platelets in
Mammalian blood consists of a liquid (plasma) and a
number of cellular and cell fragment components as each milliliter of blood. Platelets stick and adhere to
shown in Figure 21. Plasma is about 60 % of a tears in blood vessels; they also release clotting
factors. A hemophiliac's blood cannot clot. Providing
volume of blood; cells and fragments are 40%.
correct proteins (clotting factors) has been a common
Plasma has 90% water and 10% dissolved materials
method of treating hemophiliacs. It has also led to
including proteins, glucose, ions, hormones, and
HIV transmission due to the use of transfusions and
gases. It acts as a buffer, maintaining pH near 7.4.
Plasma contains nutrients, wastes, salts, proteins, etc. use of contaminated blood products.
Proteins in the blood aid in transport of large
molecules such as cholesterol. Red Bone Marrow and Leukocytes
Red bone marrow is a highly vascular tissue found in
Red blood cells, also known as erythrocytes, are the spaces between trabeculae of spongy bone. It is
flattened, doubly concave cells about 7 m in mostly found in the ends of long bones and in the flat
diameter that carry oxygen associated in the cell's bones of the body. Red bone marrow is a
hemoglobin. Mature erythrocytes lack a nucleus. hematopoietic tissue containing many stem cells that
They are small, 4 to 6 million cells per cubic produce blood cells. All of the leukocytes, or white
millimeter of blood, and have 200 million blood cells, of the immune system are produced by
hemoglobin molecules per cell. Humans have a total red bone marrow. Leukocytes can be further broken
of 25 trillion red blood cells (about 1/3 of all the cells down into 2 groups based upon the type of stem cells
in the body). Red blood cells are continuously that produces them: myeloid stem cells and lymphoid
manufactured in red marrow of long bones, ribs, stem cells.
skull, and vertebrae. Life-span of an erythrocyte is Myeloid stem cells produce monocytes and the
only 120 days, after which they are destroyed in liver granular leukocyteseosinophils, basophils, and
and spleen. Iron from hemoglobin is recovered and neutrophils.
reused by red marrow. The liver degrades the heme
units and secretes them as pigment in the bile, Monocytes. Monocytes are agranular leukocytes that
responsible for the color of feces. Each second two can form 2 types of cells: macrophages and dendritic
million red blood cells are produced to replace those cells.
thus taken out of circulation.
1. Macrophages. Monocytes respond slowly to
White blood cells, also known as leukocytes, are infection and once present at the site of infection,
larger than erythrocytes, have a nucleus, and lack develop into macrophages. Macrophages are
hemoglobin. They function in the cellular immune phagocytes able to consume pathogens, destroyed
response. White blood cells (leukocytes) are less than cells, and debris by phagocytosis. As such, they have
1% of the blood's volume. They are made from stem a role in both preventing infection as well as cleaning
cells in bone marrow. There are five types of up the aftermath of an infection.
leukocytes, important components of the immune 2. Dendritic cells. Monocytes also develop into
system. Neutrophils enter the tissue fluid by dendritic cells in healthy tissues of the skin and
squeezing through capillary walls and phagocytozing mucous membranes. Dendritic cells are responsible
foreign substances. Macrophages release white blood for the detection of pathogenic antigens which are
cell growth factors, causing a population increase for used to activate T cells and B cells.
white blood cells. Lymphocytes fight infection. T- Granular Leukocytes
cells attack cells containing viruses. B-
cells produce antibodies. Antigen-antibody 1. Eosinophils. Eosinophils are granular leukocytes that
complexes are phagocytized by a macrophage. White reduce allergic inflammation and help the body fight
blood cells can squeeze through pores in the off parasites.
capillaries and fight infectious diseases in interstitial 2. Basophils. Basophils are granular leukocytes that
areas trigger inflammation by releasing the chemicals
heparin and histamine. Basophils are active in
producing inflammation during allergic reactions and hormones. Lymph may also contain bacterial cells
parasitic infections. that are picked up from diseased tissues and the white
3. Neutrophils. Neutrophils are granular leukocytes that blood cells that fight these pathogens. In late-stage
act as the first responders to the site of an infection. cancer patients, lymph often contains cancerous cells
Neutrophils use chemotaxis to detect chemicals that have metastasized from tumors and may form
produced by infectious agents and quickly move to new tumors within the lymphatic system. A special
the site of infection. Once there, neutrophils ingest type of lymph, known as chyle, is produced in
the pathogens via phagocytosis and release chemicals thedigestive system as lymph absorbs triglycerides
to trap and kill the pathogens. from the intestinal villi. Due to the presence of
Lymphoid stem cells produce T lymphocytes and B triglycerides, chyle has a milky white coloration to it.
lymphocytes. Lymphatic Vessels
Lymphatic capillaries merge together into larger
T lymphocytes. T lymphocytes, also commonly lymphatic vessels to carry lymph through the body.
known as T cells, are cells involved in fighting The structure of lymphatic vessels closely resembles
specific pathogens in the body. T cells may act as that of veins: they both have thin walls and many
helpers of other immune cells or attack pathogens check valves due to their shared function of carrying
directly. After an infection, memory T cells persist in fluids under low pressure. Lymph is transported
the body to provide a faster reaction to subsequent through lymphatic vessels by the skeletal muscle
infection by pathogens expressing the same antigen. pumpcontractions of skeletal muscles constrict the
vessels to push the fluid forward. Check valves
B lymphocytes. B lymphocytes, also commonly prevent the fluid from flowing back toward the
known as B cells, are also cells involved in fighting lymphatic capillaries.
specific pathogens in the body. Once B cells have Lymph Nodes
been activated by contact with a pathogen, they form Lymph nodes are small, kidney-shaped organs of the
plasma cells that produce antibodies. Antibodies then lymphatic system. There are several hundred lymph
neutralize the pathogens until other immune cells can nodes found mostly throughout the thorax and
destroy them. After an infection, memory B cells abdomen of the body with the highest concentrations
persist in the body to quickly produce antibodies to in the axillary (armpit) and inguinal (groin) regions.
subsequent infection by pathogens expressing the The outside of each lymph node is made of a dense
same antigen. fibrous connective tissue capsule. Inside the capsule,
the lymph node is filled with reticular tissue
Natural killer cells. Natural killer cells, also known containing many lymphocytes and macrophages. The
as NK cells, are lymphocytes that are able to respond lymph nodes function as filters of lymph that enters
to a wide range of pathogens and cancerous cells. NK from several afferent lymph vessels. The reticular
cells travel within the blood and are found in the fibers of the lymph node act as a net to catch any
lymph nodes, spleen, and red bone marrow where debris or cells that are present in the lymph.
they fight most types of infection. Macrophages and lymphocytes attack and kill any
Lymph Capillaries microbes caught in the reticular fibers. Efferent
As blood passes through the tissues of the body, it lymph vessels then carry the filtered lymph out of the
enters thin-walled capillaries to facilitate diffusion of lymph node and towards the lymphatic ducts.
nutrients, gases, and wastes. Blood plasma also Lymphatic Ducts
diffuses through the thin capillary walls and All of the lymphatic vessels of the body carry lymph
penetrates into the spaces between the cells of the toward the 2 lymphatic ducts: the thoracic duct and
tissues. Some of this plasma diffuses back into the the right lymphatic ducts. These ducts serve to return
blood of the capillaries, but a considerable portion lymph back to the venous blood supply so that it can
becomes embedded in the tissues as interstitial fluid. be circulated as plasma.
To prevent the accumulation of excess fluids, small Thoracic duct. The thoracic duct connects
dead-end vessels called lymphatic capillaries extend the lymphatic vessels of the legs, abdomen, left arm,
into the tissues to absorb fluids and return them to and the left side of the head, neck, and thorax to
circulation. the left brachiocephalic vein.
Lymph
The interstitial fluid picked up by lymphatic Right lymphatic duct. The right lymphatic
capillaries is known as lymph. Lymph very closely duct connects the lymphatic vessels of the right
resembles the plasma found in the veins: it is a
arm and the right side of the head, neck, and thorax
mixture of about 90% water and 10% solutes such as
to theright brachiocephalic vein.
proteins, cellular waste products, dissolved gases, and
Lymphatic Nodules in the thymus and are destroyed by macrophages. The
Outside of the system of lymphatic vessels and surviving T cells spread throughout the body to the
lymph nodes, there are masses of non-encapsulated other lymphatic tissues to fight infections. By the
lymphatic tissue known as lymphatic nodules. The time a person reaches puberty, the immune system is
lymphatic nodules are associated with the mucous mature and the role of the thymus is diminished.
membranes of the body, where they work to protect After puberty, the inactive thymus is slowly replaced
the body from pathogens entering the body through by adipose tissue.
open body cavities. Lymph Circulation
Tonsils. There are 5 tonsils in the body2 lingual, 2 One of the primary functions of the lymphatic system
palatine, and 1 pharyngeal. The lingual tonsils are is the movement of interstitial fluid from the tissues
located at the posterior root of the tongue near the to the circulatory system. Like the veins of the
pharynx. The palatine tonsils are in the posterior circulatory system, lymphatic capillaries and vessels
region of the mouth near the pharynx. The move lymph with very little pressure to help with
pharyngeal pharynx, also known as the adenoid, is circulation. To help move lymph towards the
found in the nasopharynx at the posterior end of the lymphatic ducts, there is a series of many one-way
nasal cavity. The tonsils contain many T and B cells check valves found throughout the lymphatic vessels.
to protect the body from inhaled or ingested These check valves allow lymph to move toward the
substances. The tonsils often become inflamed in lymphatic ducts and close when lymph attempts to
response to an infection. flow away from the ducts. In the limbs, skeletal
muscle contraction squeezes the walls of lymphatic
Peyers patches. Peyers patches are small masses of vessels to push lymph through the valves and towards
lymphatic tissue found in the ileum of the small the thorax. In the trunk, the diaphragm pushes down
into the abdomen during inhalation. This increased
intestine. Peyers patches contain T and B cells that
abdominal pressure pushes lymph into the less
monitor the contents of the intestinal lumen for
pressurized thorax. The pressure gradient reverses
pathogens. Once the antigens of a pathogen are
during exhalation, but the check valves prevent
detected, the T and B cells spread and prepare the
lymph from being pushed backwards.
body to fight a possible infection.
Transport of Fatty Acids
Another major function of the lymphatic system is
Spleen. The spleen is a flattened, oval-shaped organ the transportation of fatty acids from the digestive
located in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen system. The digestive system breaks large
lateral to the stomach. The spleen is made up of a macromolecules of carbohydrates, proteins, and
dense fibrous connective tissue capsule filled with lipids into smaller nutrients that can be absorbed
regions known as red and white pulp. Red pulp, through the villi of the intestinal wall. Most of these
which makes up most of the spleens mass, is so nutrients are absorbed directly into the bloodstream,
named because it contains many sinuses that filter the but most fatty acids, the building blocks of fats, are
blood. Red pulp contains reticular tissues whose absorbed through the lymphatic system.
fibers filter worn out or damaged red blood cells from In the villi of the small intestine are lymphatic
the blood. Macrophages in the red pulp digest and capillaries called lacteals. Lacteals are able to absorb
recycle the hemoglobin of the captured red blood fatty acids from the intestinal epithelium and
cells. The red pulp also stores many platelets to be transport them along with lymph. The fatty acids turn
released in response to blood loss. White pulp is the lymph into a white, milky substance called chyle.
found within the red pulp surrounding the arterioles Chyle is transported through lymphatic vessels to the
of the spleen. It is made of lymphatic tissue and thoracic duct where it enters the bloodstream and
contains many T cells, B cells, and macrophages to travels to the liver to be metabolized.
fight off infections.
Types of Immunity
Thymus. The thymus is a small, triangular organ The body employs many different types of immunity
found just posterior to the sternum and anterior to the to protect itself from infection from a seemingly
heart. The thymus is mostly made of glandular endless supply of pathogens. These defenses may be
epithelium and hematopoietic connective tissues. The external and prevent pathogens from entering the
thymus produces and trains T cells during fetal body. Conversely, internal defenses fight pathogens
development and childhood. T cells formed in the that have already entered the body. Among the
thymus and red bone marrow mature, develop, and internal defenses, some are specific to only one
reproduce in the thymus throughout childhood. The pathogen or may be innate and defend against many
vast majority of T cells do not survive their training pathogens. Some of these specific defenses can be
acquired to preemptively prevent an infection before neutrophils and macrophages. A phagocyte engulfs
a pathogen enters the body. pathogens with its cell membrane before using
Innate Immunity digestive enzymes to kill and dissolve the cell into its
The body has many innate ways to defend itself chemical parts. Phagocytes are able to recognize and
against a broad spectrum of pathogens. These consume many different types of cells, including
defenses may be external or internal defenses. The dead or damaged body cells.
internal defenses include fever, inflammation, natural
killer cells, and phagocytes. Cell-mediated Specific Immunity. When a pathogen
External Defenses infects the body, it often encounters macrophages and
The coverings and linings of the body constantly dendritic cells of the innate immune system. These
prevent infections before they begin by barring cells can become antigen-presenting cells (APCs) by
pathogens from entering the body. Epidermal cells consuming and processing pathogenic antigens. The
are constantly growing, dying, and shedding to APCs travel into the lymphatic system carrying these
provide a renewed physical barrier to pathogens. antigens to be presented to the T cells and B cells of
Secretions like sebum, cerumen, mucus, tears, and the specific immune system.
saliva are used to trap, move, and sometimes even
kill bacteria that settle on or in the body. Inactive T cells are found in lymphatic tissue
Stomach acid acts as a chemical barrier to kill awaiting infection by a pathogen. Certain T cells
microbes found on food entering the body. Urine and have antigen receptors that recognize the pathogen
acidic vaginal secretions also help to kill and remove but do not reproduce until they are triggered by an
pathogens that attempt to enter the body. Finally, the APC. The activated T cell begins reproducing very
flora of naturally occurring beneficial bacteria that quickly to form an army of active T cells that spread
live on and in our bodies provide a layer of protection through the body and fight the pathogen. Cytotoxic T
from harmful microbes that would seek to colonize cells directly attach to and kill pathogens and virus-
our bodies for themselves. infected cells using powerful toxins. Helper T cells
assist in the immune response by stimulating the
Internal Defenses response of B cells and macrophages.
Fever. In response to an infection, the body may start
a fever by raising its internal temperature out of its After an infection has been fought off, memory T
normal homeostatic range. Fevers help to speed up cells remain in the lymphatic tissue waiting for a new
the bodys response system to an infection while at infection by cells presenting the same antigen. The
the same time slowing the reproduction of the response by memory T cells to the antigen is much
pathogen. faster than that of the inactive T cells that fought the
first infection. The increase in T cell reaction speed
Inflammation. The body may also start an leads to immunitythe reintroduction of the same
inflammation in a region of the body to stop the pathogen is fought off so quickly that there are few or
spread of the infection. Inflammations are the result no symptoms. This immunity may last for years or
of a localized vasodilation that allows extra blood to even an entire lifetime.
flow into the infected region. The extra blood flow Antibody-mediated Specific Immunity. During an
speeds the arrival of leukocytes to fight the infection. infection, the APCs that travel to the lymphatic
The enlarged blood vessel allows fluid and cells to system to stimulate T cells also stimulate B cells. B
leak out of the blood vessel to cause swelling and the cells are lymphocytes that are found in lymphatic
movement of leukocytes into the tissue to fight the tissues of the body that produce antibodies to fight
infection. pathogens (instead of traveling through the body
themselves). Once a B cell has been contacted by an
Natural Killer Cells. Natural killer (NK) cells are APC, it processes the antigen to produce an MHC-
special lymphocytes that are able to recognize and antigen complex. Helper T cells present in the
kill virus-infected cells and tumor cells. NK cells lymphatic system bind to the MHC-antigen complex
check the surface markers on the surface of the to stimulate the B cell to become active. The active B
bodys cells, looking for cells that are lacking the cell begins to reproduce and produce 2 types of cells:
correct number of markers due to disease. The NK plasma cells and memory B cells.
cells then kill these cells before they can spread 1. Plasma cells. Plasma cells become antibody factories
infection or cancer. producing thousands of antibodies.

Phagocytes. The term phagocyte means eating cell 2. Memory B cells. Memory B cells reside in the
and refers to a group of cell types including lymphatic system where they help to provide
immunity by preparing for later infection by the same
antigen-presenting pathogen.

Antibodies are proteins that are specific to and bind


to a particular antigen on a cell or virus. Once
antibodies have latched on to a cell or virus, they
make it harder for their target to move, reproduce,
and infect cells. Antibodies also make it easier and
more appealing for phagocytes to consume the
pathogen.
Acquired Immunity. Under most circumstances,
immunity is developed throughout a lifetime by the
accumulation of memory T and B cells after an
infection. There are a few ways that immunity can be
acquired without exposure to a pathogen.
Immunization is the process of introducing antigens
from a virus or bacterium to the body so that memory
T and B cells are produced to prevent an actual
infection. Most immunizations involve the injection
of bacteria or viruses that have been inactivated or
weakened. Newborn infants can also acquire some
temporary immunity from infection thanks to
antibodies that are passed on from their mother.
Some antibodies are able to cross the placenta from
the mothers blood and enter the infants
bloodstream. Other antibodies are passed through
breast milk to protect the infant.