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What Is An Antibody?


Antigens are molecules capable of stimulating an immune system response. Every individual antigen has a distinct surface feature that results in a specific body response. 

Antigens are tasked with the responsibility of identifying and then neutralizing foreign objects such as viruses and bacteria in the body and removing them from the immune system so that you can resume your usual health. But there is a lot more to the role of an antibody than this.

If you want to know more about what an antibody is, its function, and what they look like, this article will provide you with all of the information you could need. Let’s dive right in!

Definition Of An Antibody

Antibodies, also called immunoglobulins, are Y-shaped proteins that protect you whenever an unwanted substance enters your body. Produced by your immune system, antibodies will bind to these to remove them from your body.

Antibodies are made by a type of white blood cell known as a plasma cell in response to an antigen. An antigen is a substance that directly causes the body to make a specific immune response. A single antibody can only bind itself to one antigen which works to destroy the antigen.

You can use MyBioSource ELISA Test Kits to test a sample of your blood to determine the number of antigens in the blood and look at whether your body has any infectious agents.

Antibody Functions

An antibody will bind itself to specific antigens. The strength of this binding at a specific site is more commonly known as an antibody’s affinity for the antigen. This process sends a signal to other cells in the immune system to remove the invading microbes.

An antigen can have more than one epitope which allows numerous antibodies to bind themselves to the protein. With two or more identical binding sites, antibodies can form a strengthened bond with the antigen.

There are five different classes of immunoglobulins including IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG, and IgM, all of which play their role in the immune system. IgE is the antibody that triggers allergic responses whereas IgD helps to activate the cells that make antibodies.

What Do They Look Like?

The basic structure of all antibodies remains the same. Four separate polypeptide chains are held together by disulfide bonds, which form a symmetrical molecular structure. 

Generally, the two arms at the top of an antibody in Y shape bind to the antigen, usually part of a virus or bacteria. The bottom of the Y binds to other immune system compounds that work to mobilize the immune system or kill the antigen.

Each variation of antibodies looks different. For example, IgG is a single Y shape, whereas IgM is a little more complex with five Y’s stacked, with each prong able to bind one antigen.

Antibodies And Antigens

Antigens or immunogens are defined as foreign substances that elicit an immune response. The area on an antigen where the antibody is bound is known as the epitope. This region is typically made up of a 5-8 amino acid long chain that sits on the surface of the protein. This chain only appears as a 3D structure.

An epitope may be recognized by its native 3D form or in its form as it exists in collusion. If it exists on a single polypeptide chain it is a linear or continuous epitope.

The molecules on the surfaces of antigens tend to differ from those that naturally occur in your body. This means when an antigen enters your body, your immune system can recognize it immediately. If this occurs, your immune system will require antibody protection to fight off the antigen.

How And Where Are Antibodies Produced?

Antibodies are produced by specialized white blood cells known as B cells. These will divide and clone if they come into contact with an antigen, and will then release millions of antibodies into the bloodstream and lymph system.

You can find antibodies in just about every area of your body from your tears and saliva to your skin. High amounts of antibodies are also present in breast milk which is why breastfeeding is so great for boosting a baby’s immune system.


Antibodies are your immune system’s clever way of protecting your body against allergens, toxins, and infections. Your body will produce antibody proteins easily and naturally to add some sort of defense against foreign invaders, although a lab may sometimes make monoclonal antibodies to treat health problems like rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease.

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