2 min read
16 Mar

T cells, or T lymphocytes, are a type of white blood cell that plays a central role in the adaptive immune system. They are named after the thymus gland, where they mature. T cells are critical for recognizing and responding to specific pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi, as well as cancer cells and other abnormal cells.There are several types of T cells, each with specialized functions:

  1. Helper T cells (CD4+ T cells): These cells coordinate immune responses by secreting cytokines, which stimulate other immune cells such as B cells and cytotoxic T cells. Helper T cells also help activate macrophages, enhancing their ability to engulf and destroy pathogens.
  2. Cytotoxic T cells (CD8+ T cells): Cytotoxic T cells directly kill infected or abnormal cells. They recognize antigens presented on the surface of infected cells or cancer cells, and then release cytotoxic molecules, such as perforin and granzymes, which induce apoptosis (cell death) in the target cell.
  3. Regulatory T cells (Tregs): These cells play a crucial role in maintaining immune system homeostasis and preventing autoimmune responses. They suppress the activity of other immune cells, including other T cells, to prevent excessive immune responses that could harm the body's own tissues.
  4. Memory T cells: After an initial encounter with a specific pathogen, some T cells differentiate into memory T cells. These cells persist long-term in the body and can rapidly respond to subsequent encounters with the same pathogen, providing immunological memory and enhancing the speed and effectiveness of the immune response upon reinfection.

T cells recognize specific antigens presented to them by antigen-presenting cells (APCs), such as dendritic cells, macrophages, and B cells. The T cell receptor (TCR) on the surface of T cells binds to antigen peptides presented by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules on the surface of APCs. This interaction triggers activation and proliferation of the T cell, leading to the deployment of its effector functions, including cytokine secretion or direct killing of infected or abnormal cells.T cells are essential for adaptive immunity, working in concert with other immune cells to protect the body against a wide range of pathogens and diseases. Dysfunction or dysregulation of T cells can lead to immune disorders, autoimmune diseases, allergies, and increased susceptibility to infections. 

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