T lymphocytes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


T cells are major players in the adaptive immune response to pathogens. They express clonally distributed, highly polymorphic antigen receptors that enable them to recognize cell-associated antigen. Upon antigen recognition, T cells undergo clonal amplification and progressively acquire effector functions, ranging from the production of paracrine soluble factors that provide "help" to other immune cells to the ability to kill pathogen-infected cells with surgical precision. A pool of antigen-reactive T cells reverts to a state of quiescence and maintains a long-lasting memory of antigen encounter. T cells develop in the thymus through a rigorous selection process that recapitulates Darwinian phylogenesis: only the "fittest" survive, i.e. those that can efficiently recognize infectious non-self-antigens but ignore, or are silenced, by non-infectious self-antigens. Due to their ability to discriminate between self and non-self, T cells are the major effectors of allograft rejection. T cells are involved in the pathogenesis of several human disorders, resulting from their defective or dysregulated function. The former leads to a severe state of immunodeficiency, the latter to organ-specific or systemic autoimmunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1004-1008
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2003


  • Immunity
  • Lymphocytes
  • Memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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