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Polysaccharide Reference Dictionary



Neutrophils: Neutrophils are the most common type of white blood cells and are the first on the scene of an infection, generally arriving within the first hour. Their purpose is to ingest a pathogen which results in the death of both the pathogen and the neutrophil. Netrophils are the main contributors to the existence of pus (they give it its white color) at a wound or infection and carry most of the responsibilities of the immune systems response to wounds and infections. This type of white blood cell has a short life span, which lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days. They basically spend their time roaming through the bloodstream, waiting to be called into action. A lack of neutrophils is a serious health risk and is associated with such illnesses as anemia and leukemia.

Macrophages: Microphages are white blood cells that play an important role in the immune system. They are a phagocyte, which means they engulf and then digest harmful bacteria in an effort to regulate tissue loss and re-growth. They are important in repairing a wound, as they are the reason for inflammation. They have long life spans and are found in all organs of the body. Macrophages are developed in the bone marrow and then distributed by the bloodstream to other organs of the body.

Killer Cells: Generally called natural killer cells, these cells are responsible for the rejection of viruses and tumors. Killer cells are a type of lymphocyte. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that defend the body against diseases and are the major force in the body's immune response system. As the first line of defense, killer cells emerge from the spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes to attack viruses and cancerous cells. The way killer cells go about their responsibilities has been up for debate since their discovery in the early 1970's. It was originally thought that these cells were not very discriminatory and tackled tumors and viruses without being activated. It is now known that killer cells are activated by differing methods. In diseases such as AIDS, killer cell activation and function are abnormal and allow other illnesses to get an early jump on the immune system.

T&B Cells: T cells are white blood cells, more specifically lymphocytes, and are centrally involved in the activation of macrophages, killer cells and other immune system responses to bacteria, viruses and tumors. All T cells are produced in the bone marrow and mature in the thymus, hence the moniker T cells. There are various types of T cells each with a different function. These types of cells are known and distinguished by their T receptors found on the cell surface. B Cells also originate in the bone marrow, but unlike T cells, they stay in the marrow to mature, giving these cells their name. The other difference between these two cells stems from their responsibilities. B cells have as their primary responsibility to produce antibodies that eventually respond to antigens. Both B cells and T cells eventually make their way to the spleen and lymph nodes to make themselves ready to fight antigens.

Neutraceuticals: Neutraceuticals are a naturally occurring in many of your foods and have properties that may help to treat or prevent certain illnesses. Neutraceuticals are also now found in many supplements that can be gotten over the counter. As defined by the American Neutraceutical Association, neutraceuticals are naturally occurring in foods, but they have been fortified to contain larger doses of these nutrients. A common example of this would be orange juice fortified with calcium. As people are searching for ways to become healthier, neutraceuticals have become a part of a growing trend in the health food industry. Products such as ginseng and ginkgo biloba are popular neutraceuticals.

Phytochemicals: Phytochemicals are found in plants and have recently been discovered as having properties that can aid in the prevention of various diseases. There are many known phytochemicals (over 1,000), with the most popular being licopene that is found in tomatoes and isoflavones which can be found in soy. These are not the nutrients that are essential for human survival, but they have been found to have antioxidant and anti-bacterial effects among others. Phytochemicals are now considered to be an important part of the human diet and the various types can be found in most all fruits and vegetables. Therefore, the easiest way to intake more phytochemicals is by eating more fruits and vegetables.

Antioxidants: Antioxidants are various nutrients and minerals, including phytochemicals that help protect human cells from things called free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that try to change the chemical structure of the body's molecules and turn those molecules into free radicals as well. Free radicals are introduced by the outside environment, most notably, by smoking, pollution, radiation, pesticides and other airborne chemicals. Antioxidants prevent these free radicals from changing the molecules of your body and thus reduce your risk of cancers and heart disease. There is still much research to be done on how much this risk is reduced. Licopene found in tomatoes is a strong source of antioxidant power.

Phytonutrients: Phytonutrients are derived from plants and are used to strengthen the immune system of the human body. They are organic components of plants that, while they are not necessary for human survival, they have recently been shown to have important properties that help the immune system prevent many diseases. There are many different types of phytonutrients, though the most common are cartenoids, cyclic compounds and flavonoids. Many describe them also as phytochemicals, though phytonutrients is a more specific term. There is still much research to be done; however, there is a strong held belief by many experts in the importance of these nutrients in the prevention of many human diseases.

Glycoproteins: A glycoprotein is a protein that has attached to it a carbohydrate. Glcyoprotiens are incredibly functional and have appeared in most every biological process, most notable aiding in reproduction by increasing the sperms attraction to the egg. They are found in all living organisms and their functions are varied because of their shape. They help to form collagen, are found in mucus, they make up cell walls, and are found in blood plasma only to name a few. Glycoproteins are important in the function of hormones, therefore regulation of glycoproteins is important in the regulation of hormones.

Glucopeptides: Glucopeptides are proteins that contain attached carbohydrate groups to a polypeptide chain. They are also known as glycopeptides and are related to glycoproteins. Glucopeptide antibiotics are used to inhibit cell wall synthesis. This, in turn, inhibits replication, which ultimately kills bacteria. Glucopeptides can have side effects that are wide ranging, such as toxicity to the kidneys and ears. They are only used for cases in which the illness is severe because of their toxic nature. They are used in most often to fight severe staph infections.

Glycosylated: Glycosylation is an enzymatic process that occurs when saccahrides are added to proteins and lipids. Glycosylated hemoglobin has been important in the evaluation of diabetes patients. Glucose molecules join hemoglobin during the life cycle of red blood cells producing glycosylated hemoglobin. Those with diabetes, or poorly maintained diabetes, will have higher amounts of this hemoglobin. Glycosylation also plays an important role in the body's immune system as it is necessary in the process of cell adhesion. It is not to be confused with the process of glycation, which is a non-enzymatic chemical reaction.

Glycolipids: Glycolipids are lipids with carbohydrates attached. They reside on the outside surface of eukaryotic cell membranes. Eukaryotic simply means organisms whose cells are complex and are organized within cellular membranes. Glycolipids serve many purposes, the most common of which is to provide energy and to also serve as recognition points for other chemicals whose duties include maintaining cellular membrane stability and allowing for the attachment of cells in the formation of tissue. This, of course, is important in healing wounds.

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