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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 compatibility for transplantation

Common immunology and serology tests




To determine the state of an immunodeficiency and certain cancers

Rheumatoid factor

To classify arthritis and diagnose rheumatoid arthritis

Venereal Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL)

To diagnose syphilis, which then must be confirmed with a more specific test

HLA Typing (Human leukocyte antigens)

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

Online Resources

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases  http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/immuneSystem/Pages/whatIsImmuneSystem.aspx
MedLine Plus encyclopedia  http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000821.htm
MedLinePlus encyclopedia  http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003545.htm
MedLinePlus encyclopedia  http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003548.htm
MedLinePlus encyclopedia  http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003550.htm
MedLinePlus encyclopedia  http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003623.htm

© 2000-2011 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.