Esther Juárez

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What are T-cells? It is our big curiosity what T-cells are. Have you ever heard of them?

T-cells are a type of white blood cell that circulate around our bodies (yes they are in your blood stream this very right minute!), scanning for cellular abnormalities and infections that might affect your ability to heal.

What is the role of T-cells in the immune system? Why are they named that way?

T-cells are essential for the human immune system and response. The reason why they are called T-cells is because they mature in the thymus (even some others also mature in the tonsils). T helper cells (TH cells) assist other white blood cells in immunologic processes, including maturation of B-cells into plasma cells and memory B-cells, and activation of cytotoxic T-cells and macrophages. Once activated, they divide rapidly and secrete small proteins called cytokines that regulate or assist in the active immune response. These cells can differentiate into one of several subtypes, including TH1, TH2, TH3, TH17, Th9, or TFH, which secrete and produce different substances called cytokines to facilitate different types of immune responses. Signaling from the APC directs T-cells into particular sub-types. Helper T-cells, or Th cells, coordinate immune responses by communicating with other cells. Some stimulate nearby B cells to produce antibodies, others call in microbe-gobbling cells called phagocytes, and still others activate other T-cells.

T-cells are the key to the immune system and they represent the core of adaptive immunity, the system that tailors the body’s immune response to specific pathogens. The T-cells are like soldiers who search out and destroy the targeted invaders.

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases, T-cells aid the normal processes of the immune system. If T-cells fail to function properly, asthma, certain autoimmune diseases—including Type 1 diabetes—or the growth of cancers may result. NK T-cells get their name because they are a kind of T lymphocyte that carries some of the surface proteins, called “markers,” typical of NK T- cells. But these T-cells differ from other kinds of T-cells. They do not recognize pieces of antigen bound to self-MHC molecules. Instead, they recognize fatty substances (lipids and glycolipids) that are bound to a different class of molecules called CD1d. Scientists are trying to discover methods to control the timing and release of chemical factors by NK T-cells, with the hope they can modify immune responses in ways that benefit patients.

Reference:

“Beginners Guide to T-Cells.” Beginners Guide. N.p., n.d. Web. 2015.

“T Cell.” MedicineNet. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.

“National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.


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