Our Incredible Immune System
The human body is a biological marvel. Tasked to protect it is our immune system, which is responsible for detecting and neutralizing a wide variety of agents, known as pathogens, and distinguishing them from our own healthy tissue.
28 years ago, National Geographic Magazine published an article entitled, Our Immune System: The Wars Within. Written by Peter Jaret with photography by Lennart Nilsson for Boehringer Ingelheim, the article appeared in the June 1986 issue of National Geographic Magazine.
Below you will find the images from the amazing gallery along with a brief description of what’s happening in each. You can see the original post on reddit here.
A macrophage (x18000), a human defense cell, seeking to engulf droplets of oil.
A major component of the immune system, a helper t-cell is under attack by Hiv/ AIDS (blue)
Latecomers in immune system evolution, B-cells, like this specimen covered with bacteria, produce armies of anti-bodies whose sole purpose is to attack a single kind of pathogen.
Malaria protozoa have multiplied in two cells in a culture dish of red blood cells. One has burst open releasing the parasites to infect other cells
First line of defense agains armies of dangerous microorganisms, skin tissue is able to mend itself rapidly after injury.
First step in phagocytosis, or “cell eating” a macrophage extends several pseudopods from its single-celled form to embrace a number of E-coli bacteria
Bacteria trapped within an extension of a macrophage membrane
Powerful chemicals inside the macrophage will breakdown and destroy the components of invading cells.
Like a vision from science fiction, a macrophage reaches out to ensnare bacteria with a cellular extension called a pseudopod.
One of mankind’s greatest inorganic threats, asbestos fibres are engulfed by a macrophage which will probably die from its indigestible meal.
Mutiny in the body is a constant occurrence, many believe, as healthy cells somehow escape the mechanisms that regulate cell growth and turn cancerous. Fortunately, antigens on their surfaces sometimes alter slightly, changing from self to non-self. Thus the cells become targets for Killer T-cells, like these surrounding this large cancer cell.
Frozen in action, killer T cells appear remarkably alive as they attack a cancer cell. Several of the normally round T-cells acquire the elongated shape of active fighters as they subject their target to chemical attack, breaking down the cell membrane.
After a cancer cell loses it’s cytoplasm, only a fibrous skeleton is left, here surrounding a T-cell.
Overzealous immune responses, allergic reactions plague humans who produce certain unnecessary antibodies.
A renegade immune system has ravaged a (surgically removed) femur of a 50-year-old women suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis. Most common of al the autoimmune disorders.
The common cold virus, constantly mutates to avoid detection. Just how totally viruses can overcome a healthy host is seen when an infected human cell ruptures, releasing a stream of new viruses (blue) into the system.
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