Yasmin Thanavala, Department of Molecular Immunology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York, USA

An antiserum is simply a serum obtained from an immunized animal or vaccinated human. Immunization is the process of introducing an antigen, often repeatedly, and via a variety of routes (intraperitoneal, subcutaneous, intramuscular, intravenous or oral) into an experimental animal. An immunogen is a molecule which is recognized by the immune system and is capable of inducing an immune reaction. The immune response elicited usually consists of a humoral component and a cellular component. The term antibody was coined to designate the serum proteins that are responsible for humoral immunity. Antibodies are synthesized by plasma cells (terminally differentiated B cells) and can be detected in the serum. Thus a serum that contains a greater than usual concentration of antibodies to a particular antigen, usually as a result of immunization (although natural infection can also generate convalescent antisera), is an antiserum against that antigen. Serology is the term classically used to refer to the study of reactions between an antigen and its antiserum.

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