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Definition and Reasons To Conduct Antibodies Tests

Submitted on March 27, 2012

What are Antibodies?

Before understanding the prominence and purpose of antibody tests, one must fully grasp the purpose of the antibodies themselves. Antibodies are a specialized class of protein that carry carbohydrate groups and are created by the immune cells of the body in order to clear the body of disease agents such as cancer cells, viruses and bacteria. To be more specific, the antibody molecules are created by a cell of the immune system known as the B - lymphocyte. Each of these B - lymphocytes produce antibody molecules that are completely unique when compared to the other antibody cells within the same body. These cells will start to circulate within the blood stream and the lymph fluid. As a result of this circulation, the antibody molecules may appear to reside in almost any location of the body. If these constantly circulating antibodies were to come in contact with the virus or bacteria that they were created to terminate, the antibodies will bind themselves to the foreign body - which may render the foreign body inactive or even completely destroy it with the help of some other cells called macrophages. Right from the age of infancy, the body's immune system will normally create antibodies that neutralize various diseases and maintain ones health. Since our bodies encounter bacteria and viruses on an almost daily basis, creating cancerous and pre-cancerous cells, the antibodies and other components of the body's immune system are able to prevent the aggravation or further development of the disease. The appropriate antibody production and targeting will depend largely on the body's ability to correctly identify foreign substances that represent threats.

Reasons Why Antibody Tests are Conducted

Antibody tests are performed primarily to identify wither the presence or absence of a particular antibody or even to calibrate the amount of antibody within the system. Some of the other main reasons that antibody tests are performed on a sample of blood that has been withdrawn from the patient include trying to obtain an evaluation of the level of protection or immunity status against a particular micro organism, to diagnose the presence or past exposure to an autoimmune condition as well as to diagnose the reason for a transfusion reaction or the rejection of a transplanted organ. Since there is no single test that can be performed on the blood to identify the various antibodies present, most tests would be targeted to identify a certain antibody. As a result, most antibody tests are either ordered in singles or in combination.