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In this iBiology seminar, Dr. Avery August, professor and chair of Microbiology and Immunology, gives an overview of how cells of the immune system interact to generate an allergic response. When epithelial cells are exposed to an allergen, a cascade of signaling events causes B cells to begin producing IgE. Circulating IgE binds to receptors on the surface of mast cells or basophils. Upon subsequent exposure, the allergen will bind to IgE and trigger the release of the contents of granules found in mast cells and basophils. These granules contain histamine, heparin, proteases, cytokines and other signaling molecules that are responsible for causing the many symptoms of allergies. August also explains how drugs that prevent degranulation or counteract the actions of granule contents (such as anti-histamines) can help prevent an allergic response.

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