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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 (the clear fluid that separates when blood clots).

Immunology and serology laboratories focus on the following:

  • Identifying antibodies (proteins made by a type of white blood cell in response to an antigen, a foreign protein, in the body)

  • Investigating problems with the immune system, such as autoimmune diseases (when the body's immune system turns on its own tissues) and immunodeficiency disorders (when a body's immune system is underactive)

  • Determining organ, tissue, and fluid compatibility for transplantation

Common immunology and serology tests

Test

Uses

Immunoglobulins

These are proteins in the body that have antibody activity. An excess may be caused by a variety of conditions including infection, autoimmune disorders, cancers, and chronic diseases. A deficiency may be caused by many conditions including cancers, medicines, and chronic diseases 

Rheumatoid factor

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

HLA Typing (Human leukocyte antigens)

To determine compatibility in organ, tissue, and bone marrow transplantation, to determine paternity, and to diagnose HLA-related disorders

Online Medical Reviewer: Hanrahan, John, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 10/21/2013
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