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noun, Immunology.
any of several closely related lymphocytes, developed in the thymus, that circulate in the blood and lymph and orchestrate the immune system’s response to infected or malignant cells, either by lymphokine secretions or by direct contact: helper T cells recognize foreign antigen on the surfaces of other cells, then they stimulate B cells to produce antibody and signal killer T cells to destroy the antigen-displaying cells; subsequently suppressor T cells return the immune system to normal by inactivating the B cells and killer T cells.
another name for T-lymphocyte

T cell n.
A principal type of white blood cell that completes maturation in the thymus and that has various roles in the immune system, including the identification of specific foreign antigens in the body and the activation and deactivation of other immune cells. Also called T lymphocyte.
T cell
Any of the lymphocytes that develop in the thymus gland and that act in the immune system by binding antigens to receptors on the surface of their cells in what is called the cell-mediated immune response. T cells are also involved in the regulation of the function of B cells. Also called T lymphocyte. See more at cell-mediated immune response, Compare B cell.

T-cell definition

Key to the immune system, these cells originate in the bone marrow but mature in the thymus (the t stands for thymus). T-cells attack other body cells that are infected by some bacteria, a virus, or another pathogen. (Compare B-cell.)

Note: The HIV/AIDS virus destroys a type of T-cell, leading to the syndrome characterized by a defective immune system.

Note: T-cell counts are used as a diagnostic test to indicate the strength of the immune system in AIDS patients.

T cell
thymus-derived cell


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