Navigation Links

An antigen is any molecule that is recognized by antibodies. Usually, an antigen is a protein or a polysaccharide, but it can be any type of molecule, even small molecules if coupled to a large carrier (haptens).

There are several kinds of antigens:

  • Immunogen - Any substance that provokes an immune response (provokes immunity) when introduced into the body. An immunogen is always a macromolecule (protein, polysaccharide). Its ability to provoke the immune response depends on its foreignness to the host, molecular size, chemical composition and heterogeneity (e.g. different amino acids in a protein).
  • Tolerogen - An antigen that invokes a specific immune unresponsiveness due to its molecular form . A tolerogen can become an immunogen if its molecular form is changed.
  • Allergen - An allergen is any substance that causes an allergic reaction. It can be eaten, inhaled, injected or comes into contact with skin.

Antigens are presented by a cell to its environment via a histocompatibility molecule. Depending on the antigen presented and the histocompatibility molecule used, several types of immune cells can leap into action.

We can also classify antigens according to where they come from:

  • Exogenous antigens

Exogenous antigens are antigens that have entered the body, e.g., by inhalation, ingestion, or injection. These antigens are taken up by endocytosis or phagocytosis into the antigen presenting cells (APCs), and degraded into fragments. The fragments are then presented on the surface of APCs by class II histocompatibility molecules to T helper cells (CD4+). Those that are specific for them, get activated, so they start to secrete cytokines. The cytokines then activate cytotoxic lymphocytes T (CTL), antibodies secreting lymphocytes B , macrophages and other cells.

  • Endogenous antigens

Endogenous antigens are antigens that have been generated within the cell, as a result of normal cell metabolism, or because of viral or intracellular bacterial infection. The fragments are then presented on the cell surface in the complex with class I histocompatibility molecules. If cytotoxic CD8+ T cells recognize them, they begin to secrete different toxins that cause the lysis or apoptosis of the infected cell. In order to keep the cytotoxic cells from killing cells just for presenting normal proteins, they run through a test cycle (negative control in the thymus) just after their production. Only those CTL that do not react to normal body protein fragments are allowed to enter the bloodstream.


(Date:6/22/2016)... On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued ... the Biometric Exit Program. The Request for Information (RFI), ... that CBP intends to add biometrics to confirm when ... , in order to deter visa overstays, to ... Logo - ...
(Date:6/20/2016)... 20, 2016 Securus Technologies, a leading ... for public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring announced ... it has secured the final acceptance by all ... Managed Access Systems (MAS) installed. Furthermore, Securus will ... be installed by October, 2016. MAS distinguishes between ...
(Date:6/15/2016)... New York , June 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... a new market report titled "Gesture Recognition Market by ... and Forecast, 2016 - 2024". According to the report, ... USD 11.60 billion in 2015 and is estimated ... reach USD 48.56 billion by 2024.  ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
Other biology definition