The body’s immune system makes antibodies in response to something it believes needs to be destroyed. Most often, antibodies are made to attach to foreign substances, “immunogens”, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, animal dander, cancer cells…and the list goes on. Occasionally antibodies are made to our own body’s tissues, as is the case with auto immune diseases.
Antibodies are made by the immune system and are basically just chains of proteins. Because they are formed in response to an immunogen and are made up of proteins–glycoproteins, rather–they are also called immunoglobulins in the scientific community.
Scientists use the short hand “IgY” when expressing immunoglobulins. The “Y” is replaced with a letter to signify the antibody class. The immunoglobulins can be divided into five different classes. These classes are based on the differences in the amino acid structure in specific regions of part of the antibody’s protein chains.