The Low Down on T Cells and Antibodies

How your body fights Covid-19

The world is in an uncertain time. The news is using some very scientific terms. We thought we would try and clear up some of them and give our lovely BioOnics members a better understanding.


What is a T-cell

T cells are one of the components of your immune system and involved in your adaptive immune response. T cells are matured in your thymus and are specific immune cells, meaning they are able to recognise a specific antigen attached to a virus. Because each T cell is specific to a particular virus, your body has about 50 million + different cells to ensure that your body can fight most viruses that enter your body. 


T cells can be separated into three subsets : Helper cells, memory cells and Killer cells. Killer T cells do exactly what you expect. When a T killer cell finds a complementary antigen to its receptors around the outside of the T cell membrane, it will release cytotoxins into the cell which will kill the cell and therefore the virus inside of it. A T-helper cell in contrast helps to coordinate the immune response by releasing chemical messages which instruct Killer cells to multiply and keep the response under control. When these cells have dealt with an infection, they then produce long term memory T cells which will ensure a faster immune response if affected by the same virus. If the same virus re appears this memory cell will rapidly produce T helper and killer cells which will allow your body to remove the virus before your start to develop symptoms. 


What is an antibody?


Antibodies are produced by your B cells which are the other cells present in your adaptive immune response. An antibody is a Y shape, with two ends that are able to bind to specific antigens found on a pathogen. They also have an Fc region which is the same on every antibody as it matches the Fc receptors found on different immune cells present in your body.


Antibodies when bound to antigens can cause a few different responses. They can prevent them from invading our cells as they can no longer make it through the cell membrane attached to an antibody. They can also activate phagocytes, another cell from our immune system by binding to their Fc receptor which will trigger phagocytosis, which is where the cell engulfs and destroys the virus. They can also work together forming clumps of virus particles which makes them an easier target for other immune cells to come and destroy them. This is called agglutination.


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