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Immunology and Serology

What are immunology and serology?

Immunology is the study of the body's immune system and its functions and disorders. Serology is the study of blood serum. This is the clear fluid that separates when blood clots.

Immunology and serology labs focus on:

  • Finding antibodies. These are proteins made by a type of white blood cell in response to a foreign substance (antigen) in the body.

  • Studying problems with the immune system. These include when the body's immune system attacks its own tissues (autoimmune diseases). And when a body's immune system is underactive (immunodeficiency disorders).

  • Checking organ, tissue, and fluid compatibility for transplantation. These tests help reduce the risk of donor rejection.

Common immunology and serology tests

Test

Uses

Immunoglobulins

These are proteins in the body that have antibody activity. Many conditions can cause you to have too much of these proteins. These include:

  • Infections

  • Autoimmune disorders

  • Cancers

  • Chronic diseases

A lack of these proteins may be caused by many conditions. These include cancers, medicines, and chronic diseases. 

Rheumatoid factor

Used to help classify arthritis and diagnose rheumatoid arthritis. Other tests are often used as well to group and determine types of arthritis. 

HLA (human leukocyte antigens) typing

Tested to check compatibility in organ, tissue, and bone marrow transplantation. Also tested to confirm paternity. And to diagnose HLA-linked disorders such as some autoimmune conditions.

Online Medical Reviewer: Chad Haldeman-Englert MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2019
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