Immunology questions & terminology

Anostica anostica at
Thu Nov 23 22:17:54 EST 2000

I  am taking a microbiology course this fall semester, and in it I have
been assigned a project to do. I chose to do mine on immunology.  I have
gotten the majority of it done, but I'm having some trouble with
immunology terms. The following are some of my questions.  I would
appreciate a reply from anyone, on any of the questions.

1. One thing I'm curious about is why is it that the major
histocompatibility complex in humans is called Human Leukocyte Antigen
(HLA)? Antigens are foreign to our immune system and it's something we
want to get rid of, so why is that our MHC's in Humans is called with
the name "antigen"?

2. Also, I've been asked to state which cells express the proteins for
Class I and class II antigens? Well for one, I don't understand as to
how our cells can express antigens, when antigens are considered foreign
beings in our body. I always assume them to be something we get from our
environment rather than it being something our own cells would produce.
The only possibility I could think for this is about the Class I and
Class II MHC's. But are those Class I and Class II antibodies? I know
that MHC's (major histocompatibility complex) are a set of genes that
code for White blood cells..but does that mean that they help code for
antibodies (produced by the white blood cells)? And can the words MHC's
and antibodies be used interchangeabily?

Lastly...I was asked about why pig heart valves can be transplanted into
humans. The only answer I could come up with is because we may not or do
not have any white blood cells there that can scavenge around the area
and check for antigens. I thought that since that area is constantly
being flushed by blood, it may cause that area to be somewhat out of
reach by the immune system.

that's it..thank you for your time..


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