Functions of T Lymphocytes

Each subpopulation ofT lymphocytes has specific immune functions. Killer T cells effect cell-mediated destruction of specific victim cells, and helper and suppressor T cells play supporting roles. T cells are activated only by antigens presented to them on the surface of particular antigen-presenting cells. Activated helper T cells produce lymphokines that stimulate other cells of the immune system.

Fox: Human Physiology, Eighth Edition

15. The Immune System

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© The McGraw-H Companies, 2003

Chapter Fifteen

The thymus processes lymphocytes in such a way that their functions become quite distinct from those of B cells. Lymphocytes residing in the thymus or originating from the thymus, or those derived from cells that came from the thymus, are all T lymphocytes. These cells can be distinguished from B cells by specialized techniques. Unlike B cells, the T lymphocytes provide specific immune protection without secreting antibodies. This is accomplished in different ways by the three subpopulations of T lymphocytes.

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