- 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.
1970; so called because they are derived from the thymus. 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.T lymphocyte
- 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.