Beginners Guide to T cells

What are T-cells?

Cytotoxic T Lymphocyte

T-cells are a type of white blood cell that circulate around our bodies, scanning for cellular abnormalities and infections.

What is the role of T-cells in the immune system?

T-cells are essential for human immunity. The devastating effects of a lower than normal number of just one type of T-cell are all too evident in HIV/AIDS. There are several different kinds of T-cell; broadly speaking they can be divided into two different types, killer T-cells and helper T-cells. Killer T-cells have ‘X-ray vision’ as they are able to see inside our bodies own cells simply by scanning their surface. This mechanism allows killer T-cells to hunt down and destroy cells that are infected with germs or that have become cancerous. The other main type of T-cells are called helper T-cells. Helper T-cells orchestrate an immune response and play important roles in all arms of immunity. You can find out more about these cells using the links to the right.

It is important to study T-cells because:

Almost every aspect of the adaptive immune response is controlled, in some way, by T cells. These multifunctional cells have the ability to:

T cells are also responsible for immune responses that lead to: