Glossary of Terms
Important in the body's defense against infections, an antibody is a blood protein that is produced by the body's immune system in response to a foreign body or foreign protein. These foreign bodies/proteins include bacteria, viruses, as well as other foreign tissues, such as a transplanted heart, lung, liver or kidney. Immunization against measles, mumps, and chicken pox is done to expose the body to the inactivated organism so the body can manufacture antibodies that will, in the future, recognize the live organism and help the body fight off the infection. Antibodies are very specific, so an antibody that is protective against measles won't fight off tetanus. In transplantation surgery, some medications are used to blunt the patient's immune system response to the foreign transplanted organ. Rejection of the transplant is often the result of antibodies that are formed to combat the perceived foreign tissue.