An antigen is any substance that causes your immune system to produce antibodies against it. An antigen may be a foreign substance from the environment, such as chemicals, bacteria, viruses, or pollen. An antigen may also be formed inside the body, as with bacterial toxins or tissue cells.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.