Thursday, March 31, 2011

17 Video: Shortcuts To Learning Immunology

I realize I posted a 14 part mini-series on Immunology not long ago and know that could be a bit much to bite off at once in order to learn more about the immune system.

So I've been spending time looking for shortcuts - ways for readers to quickly get up to speed on some of the terms and processes used when discussing the immune system.

I figure videos usually are the best way to begin learning for many people - so I have been watching them on Youtube to decide what to post here.

Let me just say that as entertaining as some of them are, I wish more of them were factually correct or just had more educational content in them.

I love the idea of using battle scenes from The Lord of the Rings movies as an analogy for the immune system - some creative guy did this, and it was hilarious. But most of it had no mention of the immune system or how it worked, beyond "the good guys are these immune cells, and the orcs are the invading pathogens". And then there was the guy who went so far as to make a 1950's style documentary on angry macrophages, with retro props and a fake ad for Solomon cigarettes... this documentary compared pathogens to invading Communists.

Unique. Original. Points for style. And yet, next to no substance.

What could have been both an entertaining and educational clip ended up an abysmal failure. C'mon guys, you can do better.


Anyway, I found what I hope are some of the better videos on Youtube that you can watch to learn more about the immune system, and the material on the first one will help you advance to the next video. Also, each video reinforces what you've seen in an earlier one - it helps familiarize you with the terms and concepts used.

Let me know if you have any trouble following these. For those of you who are already more advanced students of immunology and have gotten past all of this, I will be posting more intermediate and advanced videos on the immune system later. (Those who have watched these basic and intermediate videos first will be able to move on to the advanced section, which will mention toll-like receptors and interleukins.)

If you are a more advanced student and already understand those, then I would like to encourage you to comment more here and perhaps start your own blog to let people know more about the science of the immune system and infectious diseases like Lyme disease.

Knowing more about the immune system opens the door to understanding research out there done by the IDSA guidelines panel, scientific researchers in microbiology and molecular biology outside of the IDSA panel, the statements LLMDs have made about Lyme disease and its treatment, and claims other Lyme patients have made online.

Okay, without further delay, here are four videos which may prove useful for beginners - each under 10 minutes:

Immunology Overview [Time: 4:42] - overview of basic parts and terms of the immune system


The Immune System [Time: 9:36] - Basic explanation of the immune system and how it works.

Immune System, Part 1 [Time: 7:59] - Barriers and Non-Specific Defenses
Note that this video is accompanied by this easy to view PDF:
http://www.kirkwood.edu/pdf/uploaded/695/immune_and_lymphatic2.pdf



The Immune Response (Garland Science) [Time: 1:43]


That should be good to get you started.

Note that each one has slightly different information about the immune system, but the core material is the same. Being exposed to this information in different ways over time makes it easier to learn.

17 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for all this research and dedication, Camp Other!

    Here is a marvellous book by an MD about how the immune system works, plus natural ways you can boost immunity and an excellent chapter about sleep: http://www.amazon.com/Boosting-Immunity-Creating-Wellness-Naturally/dp/1577311272/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1301693999&sr=1-1

    Here is a compilation of articles about natural ways to boost immune function:
    http://www.healthy.net/Disease/Immune_System_Immune_Disorders/162

    Note the terms "Surface" and "Deep" immunity in these articles:

    http://www.healthy.net/scr/article.aspx?Id=1806

    http://www.healthy.net/scr/article.aspx?Id=904 contains recipes for immune strengthening as well as herbs

    Best, CI

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Chiquita,

    Can you tell me why you personally valued the book you first linked to and why it is an improvement over the other books you have read on the same topics? How it compares to other books?

    I'd like to hear more about your opinion on it and why you think it is a good book and how well the immune system is explained.

    Is there anything in that book about how tickborne infections affect the immune system?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Camp Other
    Alas, the book does not mention lyme at all. I wish it did.

    It does explain about the individual immune cells and their various jobs. That's one thing I like about it, fairly detailed in this department. So for anybody who wants to know about immune system physiology, here is a good book for you. I have seen other books mention the immune cells and their various types more in brief, whereas this book goes into a bit more detail and also lists more of those immune cell types than other books I have read. All is presented in lay-friendly language.

    The sleep chapter is excellent, one of the best I have seen actually. And of course that figures importantly in the immune matter.

    There also are natural things you can do to boost immune function, discussed in the book.

    Patient case histories can be helpful to illustrate the principles at hand.

    I would like to see more about endocrine function interacting with immunity discussed more at length within this book, but it is mentioned and also is good in the areas I have mentioned above.

    If you are looking for a book about studies and clinical information, this is not the book for you. I would say it is an excellent introduction for lay readers about immune physiology and natural support for it. When we understand the role of individual immune cells, we can better understand how to take control of our health and start thinking about the more complex questions that come up within the lyme world. And use the information gleaned from this book to ask questions of our LLMDs and LLNDs.

    I hope this helps.

    Best wishes, CI

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for more information and feedback on the book. I like knowing more about what people like and didn't like about the books they've read. So I take it the book has some case histories in it, which you like - but not much about endocrine function - which you don't.

    If you haven't seen the videos I embedded above, I highly recommend them. The second one is *particularly useful* for the lay person and a good reminder for those who haven't studied the immune system in a while.

    After this set of videos, I plan on posting more advanced videos and so I recommend that you view these first - after the advanced videos, I'm going to explain how Lyme Borrelia affect the immune system - it's no small feat, I assure you, and not everything about it is understood.

    In a word: complex.

    Which is why a lot of background information is going to be needed - especially if one hasn't studied immunology or did so years ago and hasn't looked at it since.

    So if you want to know what happens next... I advise watching these first.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Camp Other
    I have been watching, thank you!
    The book has great details to offer about immune physiology and the function of immune cells. It leads to lots of insights and understandings. That, and the tools to bolster immunity, is what led to my enthusiasm for the book. Perhaps this was not more clear, sorry about that. For the event that it wasn't, here it is.

    As for complexity, here may be a simple solution. I am excited about this, and believe this may be a real lead. And it is lyme- specific. Check this out:

    http://www.publichealthalert.org/Articles/scottforsgren/2Klinghardt.htm

    ReplyDelete
  6. PS to the last post:
    Is there a way to edit posts? I want to add a comment:

    1) While the article I linked above stresses a good get-well process for us, and it also stresses that given the issues of KPU/HPU and if these are properly addressed, that lyme patients will tend to be much more resistant to developing infections even if given spirochetal exposure....it is not about immune physiology directly, as an article.

    I do not want to divert the topic here. So I wanted to say that there is no need to comment about it until another more appropriate moment arrives.

    I did want to submit it as a way of saying "no matter how complex the immune evasion issue is, there is hope!"

    2) FYI I also did come across a reference to mainstream medical scientists who *do* think that the spirochetes only manage to evade the immune system because the immune system was weak to begin with, and that given immune bolstering the spirochetes will no longer be able to trick the immune system so aptly. They are researching ways to bolster the immunity by certain means and I want to research it further before I post again. It was an interesting find however.

    Further, it is in agreement with naturopaths whose lectures I have attended, whose books and articles I have read, etc: That the immune system is strengthened by a certain amount of bacterial exposure, sort of like exercising a muscle. The detail about immune "memory" plays largely into this. Further, that we as a society have weakened our defenses by over-sterilizing our lives.

    I attended a panel discussion about immunity with 6 physicians, 5 of them naturopaths and one of them a mainstream oncologist. The mainstream oncologist mentioned that overwhelmingly, his cancer patients commented that they had barely been sick a day in their lives, prior to being diagnosed with cancer. He said he thinks that we need our viruses, flus, colds etc to strengthen the immune system and our resistance to other things. The naturopaths agreed and offered that vaccines such as that for chicken pox, only delayed the illness by a few decades, at which point it comes back in the more virulent form of shingles.

    The point being, that if we treat our immune systems like eggshells then they become weakened. And if you suppress or delay immune responses, then matters become more exaggerated later on.

    We may just need our exposures to exercise that immune system and give the "memorizing" immune cells a chance to do their job. Then we have greater resistance to other exposures, perhaps even to spirochetes.

    This is not a guarantee of course. We are not immune, only strengthened. There is a big difference.

    More details and links, quotes, etc later. Interesting stuff.

    3) Camp Other, as far as the complexity issue goes where spirochetes trick the immune system, I can see it coming already. I fully believe you, and I look forward to learning more as I see the videos along with everyone else. But one comment:

    Something this illness has taught me. Big problems, simple solutions. Sometimes even there can be huge problems, and still the solutions are simple. I have had this experience again and again, not just once.

    But that simple solution needs to be backed by clinical proof which we can all trust and believe in, plus anecdotal evidence as you have already written about, to further back the science. (Scientific tests can be tweaked anyway, so the anecdotes have important value in proving whether or not a clinical trial was on the right track, so long as the case histories are numerous and the results consistent, just as you already wrote about. Thank you Camp Other!)

    Best, CI ps looking forward to the videos and learning more....

    ReplyDelete
  7. http://www.health.harvard.edu/flu-resource-center/how-to-boost-your-immune-system.htm

    *****Attempting to boost the cells of the immune system is especially complicated because there are so many different kinds of cells in the immune system that respond to so many different microbes in so many ways. Which cells should you boost, and to what number? So far, scientists do not know the answer.*****

    ****Walk into a store, and you will find bottles of pills and herbal preparations that claim to “support immunity” or otherwise boost the health of your immune system. Although some preparations have been found to alter some components of immune function, thus far there is no evidence that they actually bolster immunity to the point where you are better protected against infection and disease.****

    **** There are still relatively few studies of the effects of nutrition on the immune system of humans, and even fewer studies that tie the effects of nutrition directly to the development (versus the treatment) of diseases.*****

    *****Many products on store shelves claim to boost or support immunity. But the concept of boosting immunity actually makes little sense scientifically. In fact, boosting the number of cells in your body — immune cells or others — is not necessarily a good thing. For example, athletes who engage in “blood doping” — pumping blood into their systems to boost their number of blood cells and enhance their performance — run the risk of strokes.****

    From this one article, which is not from a site that is selling supplements btw, it seems as if the recurrent theme with researchers and scientists will consistently say 'there's not enough known yet'. I agree. But I hope some day that there will be.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey Chiquita,

    Sorry, there is no way to edit your comment. Once it is submitted, it goes to my moderation bin, and from there it gets posted here. Alas, Blogger fail.

    I hope you've had a good weekend... I'm finally getting back to responding to some of your comments here.

    You mentioned:
    1) KPU/HPU

    I know this is something Klinghardt has been promoting, and while I support and see the value of some of what Klinghardt does - and understand the logic behind it supporting the immune system (such as reducing light and distractions at night to re-align the sleep cycle, for one) - I have doubts about the KPU/HPU diagnosis.

    I've read one of the primary alternative medicine articles on KPU/HPU which was posted to Alternative Therapies magazine as well as other sources ('Discerning the Mauve Factor'), and did some of my own research on sources from Germany and the Netherlands which were written in German and Dutch. (You can do the same research by translating the text into English through Google's translation service, or have bilingual friends help out.)

    Based on what I read, HPU doesn't hold water so far. Patients may be deficient in B6, zinc, and manganese and need supplementation with these anyway, regardless of their HPU test - and should be evaluated by their doctors for vitamin and mineral deficiencies as a whole rather than for HPU on its own. There can be other conditions such as malabsorption (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malabsorption) which can be caused by celiac disease, fructose intolerance, or other conditions found at that link which can be tied to such deficiencies and require dietary and nutritional changes beyond what HPU treatment can provide.

    Also, in investigating HPU as a diagnosis in Europe - it turned out that a major promoter of the diagnosis, Dr. John Kamstra from Weert, NL, (who is a biochemist, and not an MD or licensed naturopath) was investigated by other doctors, a court of law, and even a major alternative medicine (CAM) association of naturopaths and alternative practitioners.

    Two researchers - Hessels and Van As - actually had their research commissioned by the Alternative Medical Society for Biological and Natural Medicine (ABNG), and Kamstra actually *sued* them over their research article in the 'Dutch Journal of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine', in which Kamstra was accused of publishing "false and misleading" information was given about his fabricated "inherited metabolic disease", HPU. From what I understand (someone reading this from NL may want to jump in and fill me in on the story) the courts threw out Kamstra's suit.

    Harsh, I know. But what can I say in response to this? This is what I've read, as well as this:

    A study on the relationship between HPU and 75 Dutch students was conducted where it was determined there was no relationship between fatigue and HPU levels:
    http://www.ntvg.nl/publicatie/geen-verband-tussen-zogeheten-39hemopyrrollactamurie39-en-vermoeidheid-bij-gymnasiasten/abstract (Note that is only the abstract; subscription fees apply to view full text and I don't have access, either.)

    (more)

    ReplyDelete
  9. (For Chiquita - more - HPU)

    Then there is this German paper - http://www.reference-global.com/doi/abs/10.1515/JLM.2010.039 - which states the following:

    "There were speculations in the 1960s and 1970s about a compound in human urine which was first named mauve factor and later falsely identified as kryptopyrrole before the correct chemical structure was established as hydroxyhemopyrrollactame. It was thought to be useful in distinguishing a schizophrenic subpopulation. In addition, with certain porphyrias an elevated amount should be found in urine. These speculations were finally disproved in the late 1970s."

    So, if I put all of that aside and go back to focusing on the 'Alternative Therapies' article, I also find myself in a difficult position regarding HPU...

    In reading the first half of the article cited above on the 'Mauve Factor':

    - The article neglects mention of other causes of change in urine specific gravity that can reflect the state of one's health.

    - The authors themselves fall to correlation without clear causation, such as stating certain biomarkers for stress increase at night along with HPU levels - but how does one know which is the cause, and which is the effect? What if other biomarkers increase - are those related to HPU or other causes, or vice-versa? What about specific hormone levels? Cortisone?

    - The authors refer to an unpublished Navy study for their data - that leaves me wondering what happened.

    - Citing oral communications as a source for their statements a number of times lowers my confidence.

    - I'm glad they disclose their interests - three of the authors profit from the HPU assay test. This may be the source of bias in reporting.

    - The references are self-referential; authors report on themselves and the Riordan clinic and Pfeiffer clinic are two of the few clinics which diagnose and test for HPU. Having other resources to refer to outside of the authors would strengthen their support for HPU.

    -The authors weaken their own arguments about HPU by stating "Non-erythroid heme in high-Mauve subjects has not been measured, but depressed levels are predictable. Besides potential depression by HPL, deficiencies of zinc, B6, and biotin (all cofactors for heme synthesis) independently decrease non-erythroid heme.99,102 And heme is degraded by stress." ... The above states that regardless of their prediction, deficiencies and stress themselves can decrease this heme. How do you know that HPU (HPL here) is the issue for specific patients?

    - To quote, "Initial data from a small cohort of Austrian patients with
    mixed diagnoses suggested an association between urinary HPL
    and plasma GSH. Peter Lauda, MD, reported that single-void
    colorimetric HPL, adjusted to creatinine, correlated modestly
    with red-cell GSH (r=–0.41) in a group of patients in whom HPL
    was elevated only in 1 of 13 subjects (written communication,
    2005)." That's too small a sample size to be meaningful, and there may be other reasons for their GSH to be what it is. The fact that this states "patients had mixed diagnoses" already could indicate other causes based on those diagnoses... we just don't know.

    - Even *if* HPL is a biomarker for oxidative stress, this doesn't alleviate the problem of the *cause*.

    - How do you distinguish between a vitamin and mineral deficiency and HPL/High-Mauve factor to begin with?

    (more)

    ReplyDelete
  10. (For Chiquita - HPU - more)

    I could go on. This is a fraction of what I could comment on about the article. The references cited are something I will have to look into more - admittedly, there are a lot there. An initial glance at them tells me that some are about pyrroles in general and not specifically HPU (or what they are calling HPL) and also about other hormones, biomarkers, and conditions.

    It's too bad I'm not confident about this paper, because there are other articles in 'Alternative Therapies' that I find interesting and thought provoking. But this information on KPU/HPU is not convincing me it's something which needs diagnosis... but I am convinced that deficiencies and malabsorption and its causes in general *do* need prompt diagnosis and treatment. I am concerned something will be overlooked if people focus on HPU and its treatment.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Chiquita wrote,

    "2) FYI I also did come across a reference to mainstream medical scientists who *do* think that the spirochetes only manage to evade the immune system because the immune system was weak to begin with, and that given immune bolstering the spirochetes will no longer be able to trick the immune system so aptly. They are researching ways to bolster the immunity by certain means and I want to research it further before I post again. It was an interesting find however."

    In study after study, early detection and diagnosis of Lyme disease spirochetes shortly after a tick bite has been hampered by the fact that the body does not produce antibodies in response to the infection right away. Sometimes they aren't detectable until 6 weeks after infection. If someone has just a little antibiotics during those 6 weeks, they might return a seronegative test, too - thus leading to being undertreated for their infection, as a doctor will see that test and tell them they do not have Lyme disease when they do.

    It would be great if we could as a matter of regular practice test the strength of everyone's immune system regularly, before they get even one tick bite. (Sadly, this doesn't address those unfortunate babies who contract Lyme disease in the womb from their mothers.) It isn't something that is done, though, so I could not tell you if I had an immune deficiency before I got a tick bite or after it.

    It is my personal opinion that I might have had one prior to the bite, though, because I did get a lot of flus, colds, sinus infections, and bronchitis while others around me had the sniffles or a two day virus and moved on. Me? I was in for a week, two weeks, or perhaps a month of infectious, snotting hell.

    We'll never know, though. It's a useful observation to make note of, but it's anecdotal.. And others' anecdotes of having the same sort of tendency towards getting sick yet having been bitten by ticks many times and *not* developing the problems I've had has made me wonder if this line of conjecture is worthwhile at all.

    What I do know is that in murine models, antigenic variation in spirochetes can begin as early as 4 days after infection. Four. And when one's immune system is finally up to producing antibodies, those antibodies have to deal with multiple serotypes simultaneously and in succession - the spirochetes keep changing, and they change when they disseminate into more remote tissues.

    It's clever. And its segmented DNA ways are challenging researchers. They still don't know entirely what it does, and there are about 3 other bacteria on the planet that do antigenic variation in a manner similar to it. (Gonorrhea and its pili being one of them.)

    'Bolstering the immune system' from what I've learned is more about avoiding letting it get run down and depleted. There are actions one can take to improve their immune system, and supportive supplements and some immunomodulating herbs can help - but they have to be approached and used on a case by case basis.

    (more)

    ReplyDelete
  12. More for Chiquita...

    Chiquita wrote:

    "Camp Other, as far as the complexity issue goes where spirochetes trick the immune system, I can see it coming already. I fully believe you, and I look forward to learning more as I see the videos along with everyone else. But one comment:

    Something this illness has taught me. Big problems, simple solutions. Sometimes even there can be huge problems, and still the solutions are simple. I have had this experience again and again, not just once.

    But that simple solution needs to be backed by clinical proof which we can all trust and believe in, plus anecdotal evidence as you have already written about, to further back the science. (Scientific tests can be tweaked anyway, so the anecdotes have important value in proving whether or not a clinical trial was on the right track, so long as the case histories are numerous and the results consistent, just as you already wrote about. Thank you Camp Other!) "

    Thanks - I hope you find both the videos and the drawings (!) to come interesting and maybe even entertaining. I'm hoping to try my hand at drawing some of this because I don't think the information has been integrated much into one place. I may have to do the drawings in stages, layering one on top of the other.

    And yes, anecdotal evidence if collected accurately and properly - alongside clinical research - can both guide us towards the truth. As you've remarked about the tweaking, I'm going to be writing more about the reliability of anecdotal data and scientific data in respect to making decisions about one's own treatment in Part 2 of my posts on the value of anecdotal evidence. Look for a new post this week - I might even have it posted by Monday night.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hey cave76,

    Sorry it took a while to get to your comments - had a lot to say in response to what Chiquita posted.

    Thank you for posting that article on the immune system. I'm reposting it and linking it here (don't you have the ability to use a href tags in your comments? if not, I'm surprised, and guess that is just something a blogger owner can do?):


    I agree with what you said here:

    "From this one article, which is not from a site that is selling supplements btw, it seems as if the recurrent theme with researchers and scientists will consistently say 'there's not enough known yet'. I agree. But I hope some day that there will be."

    There isn't enough known. We know a lot more than we used to, and with higher powered equipment and molecular biology studies, we're learning more - but there's so much more that isn't known yet. The immune system is complex and holds much mystery - as do the pathogens which invade it.

    I predict that the upcoming sciences are immunology and proteomics. Actually, that future is now - we're in the middle of these fields in expansion. If you look at PubMed, Web of Science, Oxford, etc and see how many papers are published in these fields now versus 10 years ago... it has been *booming*.

    In terms of discussing immunology in this blog in the near future, I'm hoping to get readers through some of the terminology - it can sound nerdy and overwhelming at first - but with some repeated exposure and examples, it gets easier.

    With knowing more about the basics, the intermediate postings will make more sense, and then the advanced ones as well. Then when it comes to reading the studies I end up posting on toll-like receptors (cool!) and interleukins and complement, people will hopefully begin understanding them better.

    I don't know if it will be easier or harder to explain antigenic variation and the genetic twists of Borrelia... I suspect it's going to be easier, actually, because that is easier to break down into different steps than to break down into steps how the immune system works and what is known and speculated about how it interacts with Borrelia. (I sometimes think I am insane to try this, but everyone has to have a hobby.)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Whoops. It didn't show up.

    For everyone reading, here is a direct link to the article on boosting the immune system which cave76 posted:

    http://www.health.harvard.edu/flu-resource-center/how-to-boost-your-immune-system.htm

    That's better.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Chiquita,

    If you're reading this, you might want to take note of these items from the link above, given our discussions about deficiencies and HPU:

    "Vitamin B6. Several studies have suggested that a vitamin B6 deficiency can depress aspects of the immune response, such as lymphocytes’ ability to mature and spin off into various types of T and B cells. Supplementing with moderate doses to address the deficiency restores immune function, but megadoses don’t produce additional benefits. And B6 may promote the growth of tumors."

    and

    "Zinc. Zinc is a trace element essential for cells of the immune system, and zinc deficiency affects the ability of T cells and other immune cells to function as they should. Caution: While it’s important to have sufficient zinc in your diet (15–25 mg per day), too much zinc can inhibit the function of the immune system."

    There isn't anything written there about Manganese, or I'd add that here, too.

    ReplyDelete
  16. What foods boost immunity?

    An adequate diet helps maintain immunity and keeps you healthy. The immune system needs such nutrients as protein, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Severely malnourished people are particularly vulnerable to immune dysfunction, and they get sick more easily than other people and stay sick longer. What most people want to know, though, is whether one specific food or kind of food will boost immunity in otherwise healthy people on an adequate diet. The answer is generally no.

    What supplements boost it?

    So far there's no reason to believe that supplements will boost immunity in healthy people, except in the malnourished and many of the elderly.

    Also:

    So how can I nurture my immune system?

    Perhaps the most direct action you can take is to consume a varied, balanced diet of vegetables, fruits, whole and fortified grains, and dairy products, with small amounts of fish and meat if you wish. A basic daily multivitamin/mineral supplement is usually a good idea for older people.

    Beware of any supplement, however, that promises to boost immunity: protein supplements, enzyme supplements, and the whole range of specific vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and nostrums that claim to boost immunity don't strengthen it.

    From
    http://wellnessletter.com/html/fw/fwLon16Immunity.html

    The Wellness Letter is a bit of white bread but it's easy to read.

    ReplyDelete
  17. ***When reading the literature on the immune boosting properties of various products you find there are several kinds of results that they use to justify their claims, all with a thick coating of exaggeration and hyperbole.

    The first is just made up.

    Somebody somewhere decided that this product enhanced immune function. Often the claim is based on ancient wisdom. You know, ancient wisdom, the same ancient wisdom that gave us the flat earth and slavery and women as inferior, that ancient wisdom.

    Always a reliable indicator. Most of the time there is no data to support the claims of immune boosting.****

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=1828

    ReplyDelete

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