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Subject - Immunology

Antibodies are also called immunoglobulins (Ig). They are soluble glycoproteins which can be found in the blood and in extracellular fluids of different tissues. They are produced by B cells and recognize specific epitopes. Binding of an antibody tags the corresponding antigen for phagocytosis by scavenger cells and provokes an immune reaction that induces the formation of various antibodies with identical specificity.


Y-shaped structure of an antibody molecule. The heavy chains of the two arms are coloured in brown and light grey, the two light chains are green and blue. PDB Code: 1IGT.

Antibodies are subdivided into five classes (IgG, IgA, IgM, IgD, IgE), that differ in structure, time of formation during an immune reaction and/or site of action. Sometimes the immune system produces antibodies that are directed against cells of the body itself ("autoantibodies") and cause autoimmune diseases. These autoantibodies can attack organs (e.g. antibodies against the thyroid gland in Hashimoto's disease) or bind to messenger substances, receptors or other components of the cells.

See also: antigen

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