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Immunological Malfunction?


Karen A. Pinco
Department of Biology
Westfield State College


This case study was developed to complement the study of the immune system and to emphasize the crosstalk that occurs at the cellular level between B and T cells for proper immune system function. In reading the story of a young couple trying to understand the cause of their infant boy’s constant bacterial infections, students review the different classes of antibodies, their specific functions, and how they arise through isotype switching. In addition, students apply their knowledge of basic genetics as they examine how X-linked disorders are passed along and the role of genetic counselors in medicine.

  • Review the different classes of antibodies and their specific functions.
  • Review the concept that different classes of antibodies arise through isotype switching (switching the heavy chain type).
  • Apply knowledge of basic genetics to a review of how X-linked disorders are passed along.
  • Learn about the role of genetic counselors in medicine.
  • Studying the role of CD40L in the immune system.
  • Understand the importance of crosstalk between B and T cells.
  • Explore how immunoglobulin therapy can help patients with an immunodeficiency disease.
  • Discuss the potential of biotechnology to find a cure for this disease.
  • Stimulate a discussion about science and ethics.
Keywords: X-linked agammaglobulinemia with hyper-IgM syndrome; CD40 ligand; immune system; IgM; IgG; T cells; bone marrow transplant; isotype switching; immunoglobulin; pedigree; genetic counselor
Topical Area: Ethics
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Problem-Based Learning
Language: English
Subject Headings: Genetics / Heredity   Physiology  
Date Posted: 01/28/08
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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