One of the marvels of the host immune response is its response to antigenic foreign substances by manufacturing proteins that bind tenaciously to their targets. These proteins are antibodies or immunoglobulins produced in vast diversity during an individual's lifetime. By virtue of this process, the mammalian host possesses the innate ability to mount an initial response to antigens to which there has been no prior experience and to develop an even more effective response on reexposure to these same substances. This capacity to distinguish self from nonself is one of the most basic aspects of the cellular and humoral arms of the immune response and is one of the primary means by which the host combats infection caused by many different types of pathogens.1,2 In this context, antibodies have long been recognized as a critical component of host defenses and are capable of binding to invading microbes and microbial toxins.
(Arch Surg. 1993;128:1274-1280)