The human immune system is beautiful, powerful, and complex. In order to maximize health all components of the immune system must work together in balance. Here we learn about some of the major parts of the immune system and how they work together.
Some of the most crucial contributors to the immune system are called T cells. These cells do many jobs in the body. They communicate with other parts of the immune system, helping to regulate their functions. They destroy cancerous cells and help to fight many infections. Once T cells are mature they can be found in many parts of the body, but they all develop in one place: the thymus.
The thymus is a small organ that sits high in the chest. The thymus is at its largest and most active in infants and children. After adolescence, the thymus begins to shrink. By the time a person is past forty their thymus is small and largely inactive. It no longer performs its important job: developing and educating new T cells. This means that as people get older their bodies are less able to respond to new types of infections and disorders.
Scientists and doctors have known for decades that people with disorders of the thymus can be helped by treatment with compounds and extracts made from healthy thymus tissue. Now people hoping to strengthen their immune systems can take a purified compound known as Thymic Protein A. Thymic Protein A allows for the activation and development of a type of T cell called a CD4 T cell, or T helper cell.
T cells are a crucial component of the immune system. All T cells develop and are educated in the thymus. While they maturing in the thymus they learn two important things: how to recognize things that are harmful to the body, and how to recognize things that are part of the body. In a healthy individual, once T cells mature they will recognize foreign and harmful substances in the body but leave the body’s normal and healthy tissues alone.
There are two major groups of T cells: T helpers (CD4) and T killers (CD8). These types of cells work together, but they have different jobs. T helper cells, whose growth can be stimulated by Thymic Protein A, perform a wide range of functions in the body. Without a healthy population of T helper cells immune dysfunction often occurs. T helper cells are the great communicators of the immune system. When T helper cells encounter threats to the body they orchestrate the response. They produce chemicals that call various types of cells into action. T helpers also activate T killer cells when appropriate.
T killer cells destroy cells in the body that have become abnormal. People have many small numbers of cancer cells in their bodies all the time. A healthy T cell population destroys these cancers before they can grow and any signs of illness occur. T helper cells help recognize that the cells have become cancerous, and T killers terminate them. T killer cells also destroy cells that are infected with viruses. Because viruses need to infect cells to multiply, a strong T killer response can limit the ability of a virus to multiply in your body. This can reduce the time you are sick and increase your speed of recovery. Without T helpers, T killers don’t effectively fight viruses or cancers.
A healthy population of mature and active T helper cells is essential to proper functioning of the immune system. T helper cells do more than activate T killer cells. They also communicate with B cells, another class of cells of the immune system. B cells are made in your bone marrow. They have a very important job: antibody production.
Antibodies are chemicals made by B cells in your body. Antibodies can be thought of as natural, powerful, highly specific drugs that your body produces to fight off infections. Antibodies target specific threats to your body. For example, they may help kill particular bacteria or viruses. They are only produced when needed, but your body makes these chemicals in larger amounts and more quickly the more often you are exposed to a disease. That is why healthy people rarely get the same disease twice. Their antibody response has been primed to fight off the infection.
B cells do not produce many antibodies on their own. A powerful antibody response only occurs when T helper cells activate B cells, stimulating them to divide and produce large amounts of antibodies. T helper cells are also necessary for B cells to remember threats they have already encountered. T helper cells will use chemicals to encourage B cells to produce memory cells. These memory B cells are the reason healthy people are able to fight off infections faster the second time they are exposed. Without T helper cells your body’s abilities to produce antibodies and fight repeated infections are severely limited.
T helper cells, which are stimulated by Thymic Protein A, activate T killer cells and B cells in complex ways. T helper cells don’t just turn a switch that makes one group or the other respond to a particular threat. These vital cells of the immune system help balance and coordinate the actions of B cells and T cells, optimizing the body’s response to bacterial, fungal and viral infections, inflammation and cancerous cells.
Emily Schoerning, PhD