The parts of your immune system

Your immune system is, well, a system, which means it has many different parts helping it to function.  Let’s look at a few different components of your immune system:

The thalamus is where T-cells are made (T-cells are one of many white blood cells, platoons of armies ready to strike). Think of the thalamus as your army supply store and the white blood cells are your army.

Your spleen is an organ located to the left of your stomach that filters your blood, removing bad cells and old red blood cells.

 Did You Know? You can live without your spleen – the liver takes over its functions. However, people without a spleen are more susceptible to infections.

Stem cells originate in bone marrow. They are called stem cells because they are the very beginning of all kinds of cell growth and can branch or grow into different kinds of needed cells. Think of bone marrow as boot camp, where different soldiers are created for your army to fight foreign invaders.

Some of those soldiers become white blood cells that produce antibodies which fight off antigens (aka the bad guys of bacteria, toxins and viruses). Just like going into a battle if you are  a soldier, the white blood cells attack the toxin and bind to it (imagine a fist fight), only the white blood cell hangs on and eventually disables the toxin. You have over a dozen different platoons of white blood cells with names like Killer T-cells and Helper T-cells and Suppressor T-cells and Natural killer cells and then the Leukocytes and Lymphocytes and many more.

 Did You Know? Your red blood cells carry the oxygen and carbon dioxide, while your white blood cells search for invaders.

I am so into this analogy that I am thinking of creating a video game all about the Immune Invaders and How the Innocent Uphold their stance against the incoming…

Please stop talking.

The cool thing about your particular army (your body’s immune system) is that it contains millions of different antibodies in your bloodstream, each one trained to deal with a particular invader. You also have hormones (lymphokines) that encourage production of more armies of cells to fight infection. Think of these hormones as the intercom system at boot camp, instructing the officers to make more white blood cells.

 Did You Know? A fever develops when another hormone generated by white blood cells (interleukin-1) are called into battle and reach the hypothalamus in the brain. The raised temperature is known to kill some bacteria.

All in all, your immune system is made up of the following “army” units:

  • thymus (near your heart)

  • spleen

  • lymph nodes and tissues

  • stem cells

  • white blood cells

  • antibodies

  • hormones and

  • skin



Post Question:  Have you ever had a really bad fever?  What was it like?

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