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·  Natural, active immunity occurs when the immune system responds to a harmful agent and develops long-term immunity. This type of immunity is the most effec­tive and longest lasting. For example, people develop im­munity to measles after having the disease once.

·  Natural, passive immunity is the transfer of anti­bodies from a mother to a fetus (through the placenta) or to a breast-fed infant. This type of transmission provides temporary, partial immunity.

·  Artificial, active immunity is obtained by vaccination with weakened or dead infectious agents introduced into the body to alert the immune system.

·  Artificial, passive immunity is provided by substances that offer immediate but tempo­rary immunity, such as antibiotics, gamma globulin, and interferon.


The following conditions may be encountered when per­forming a physical examination of the lymphatic and im­mune system:

·  Angioedema is a subcutaneous and dermal eruption that produces deep, large, raised sections of skin (usually on the hands, feet, lips, genitals, and eyelids) and diffuse swelling of the subcutaneous tissue.

·  Butterfly rash is a classic sign of systemic lupus erythematosus. Lesions appear on the cheeks and bridge of the nose, creating a characteristic butterfly-shaped pattern.

·  Chills (also called rigors) are extreme, involuntary muscle contractions with characteristic paroxysms of violent shivering and tooth chattering.

·  Lymphadenopathy is enlarged lymph nodes.

·  Lymphangioma is a benign tumor caused by congenital malformation of the lymphatic system.

·  Splenomegaly is an enlarged spleen.

·  Urticaria is a skin condition that's more commonly known as hives.


Most tests of the immune system use a combination of techniques to evaluate the body's immune response and break down the individual components.


Here are some common laboratory tests:

·  ABO blood typing classifies blood according to the presence of major antigens A and B on red blood cell (RBC) surfaces and according to serum antibodies anti-A and anti-B. ABO blood typing is required before transfu­sion to prevent a lethal reaction.

·  Crossmatching is an antibody detection test that es­tablishes the compatibility of a donor's and recipient's blood.

·  A direct antiglobulin test (direct Coombs' test) demonstrates the presence of antibodies (such as anti­bodies to the Rh factor).

·  Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) identifies antibodies to bacteria, viruses, deoxyribonucleic acid, allergens, and substances such as immunoglobulin.

·  Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) is the de­gree of erythrocyte settling in a blood sample during a specified period.

·  Human leukocyte antigen test (HLA) identifies a group of antigens that are present on the surfaces of all nucleated cells but most easily detected on lymphocytes. These antigens are essential to immunity and determine the degree of histocompatibility between transplant re­cipients and donors.

·  Immunoelectrophoresis identifies immunoglobulin in a serum sample. It evaluates the effectiveness of radia­tion therapy or chemotherapy and detects hypogammaglobulinemias (abnormally low levels of gamma globu­lins causing increased susceptibility to infection).

·  The platelet count indicates the number of platelets in a microliter of blood.

·  Rh typing classifies blood by the presence or absence of the Rh0 antigen on the surface of RBCs.

In this test, a patients RBCs are mixed with serum containing anti-Rh0 antibodies and are observed for clamping to­gether of antigen-bearing particles of similar size in a solution.

·  WBC count, also called a leukocyte count, is part of a complete blood count. It indicates the number of WBCs in a microliter of whole blood.