Antigen and immunogen: An investigation into the heterogeneity of immunology terminology in learning resources

Sumali Pandey, Heather A. Bruns, Danielle L.J. Condry, Adam J. Kleinschmit, Archana Lal, Sarah Sletten, Rebecca L. Sparks-Thissen, Thiru Vanniasinkam, Rebekah T. Taylor, Louis B. Justement, Samantha L. Elliott

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Abstract

The need to focus on immunology education has never been greater. The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has revealed that a significant proportion of our society is vaccine hesitant. Some of this hesitancy may stem from a general lack of understanding of how the immune system and immunological interventions work. In addition, social media platforms undercut public health efforts by quickly propagating a multitude of misconceptions and erroneous information surrounding the science behind these interventions. The responsibility to be advocates for science is well recognized by immunology researchers, educators, and public health professionals, as evidenced by the rich body of resources developed to communicate science to the lay audience. Scientific jargon, however, can be a barrier to effective communication and can negatively impact learning and comprehension. The field of immunology is especially laden with discipline-specific terminology, which can hamper educators' efforts to convey key concepts to learners. Furthermore, a lack of consistency in accepted definitions can complicate students' conceptual understanding. Learning resources, including textbooks, published in print or available online, and exclusively digital resources, continue to serve as the primary sources of information for both educators and students. In this article, we describe a vast heterogeneity in learning resource glossary descriptions of two key conceptual terms: antigen and immunogen We provide a perspective on pedagogical strategies to address these critical terms. Using current knowledge, we recommend an approach to standardize the definitions of the terms antigen and immunogen within the immunology educator community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-323
Number of pages12
JournalImmunoHorizons
Volume6
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2022

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