Immune Cells and Their Functions

Here is a simplified breakdown of different immune cells and their functions by AJ Lanigan. These are referred to by AJ as the "Baker's Dozen Immune Cells", which are very important to understand as Beta Glucan enhances the function of each.

T cells

Critical in adaptive immunity, with unique surface receptors that allow T cells to sense and respond to diverse types of pathogenic organisms as well as for defense against unwanted target cells, such as emergent tumor cells. T cell activation and proliferation are fundamental to regulating the effect and extent of the immune response.

B cells 

At the center of the adaptive immune system and are responsible for the production of antigen-specific immunoglobulin directed against invasive pathogens. B cell activation and proliferation are crucial for the secretion of antibodies.

Phagocytes 

Cells that protect the body by ingesting harmful foreign particles, bacteria, and dead or dying cells. There are three main groups of phagocytes: monocytes and macrophages, granulocytes, and dendritic cells, all of which have a slightly different function in the body.

  • Monocytes 
    • Made in the bone marrow and travel through the blood to tissues in the body, where it becomes a macrophage or a dendritic cell. Macrophages surround and kill microorganisms, ingest foreign material, remove dead cells, and boost immune responses. During inflammation, dendritic cells increase immune responses by showing antigens on their surface to other members of the immune system.
  • Macrophages
    • Perform critical roles in immune regulation and wound-healing, responding to a variety of cellular signals to change their response. Macrophages reside in every tissue and take on tissue-specific forms, such as Kupffer cells and microglia, where they scavenge and engulf microorganisms and apoptotic cells, a central role in host defense.
  • Granulocytes 
    • White blood cells with secretory granules in their cytoplasm, i.e., a neutrophil, basophil, or eosinophil. There are three types of granulocytes: neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils.
  • Dendritic cells 
    • Antigen-presenting cells of the immune system. Their primary function is to process antigen material and present it on the cell surface to the T cells of the immune system. They act as messengers between the innate and the adaptive immune systems. Once activated, they migrate to the lymph nodes where they interact with T cells and B cells to initiate and shape the adaptive immune response.

Eosinophils 

White blood cells responsible for combating multicellular parasites and certain infections in vertebrates.

Basophils 

(and eosinophils) are essential effector cells in human allergic diseases; they play a significant role in promoting allergic inflammation through the release of pro-inflammatory mediators, such as histamine.

Neutrophils 

The first line of defense at the site of infection, playing an essential role in the innate immune system by both ingesting bacteria and releasing antimicrobial enzymes that degrade and kill pathogens. Neutrophil recruitment and function are critical for host defense.

Natural killer cells

Also known as NK cells, are a type of cytotoxic lymphocyte critical to the innate immune system. The role of NK cells is analogous to that of cytotoxic T cells in the adaptive immune response. NK cells provide rapid responses to virus-infected cells, acting around three days after infection, and they also respond to tumor formation. They were named "natural killers" because of the notion that they do not require activation to kill cells that are missing "self" markers. This role is especially crucial because harmful cells that are missing key characteristics cannot be detected and destroyed by other immune cells, such as T lymphocyte cells.

Killer T cells

Also known as cytotoxic T cells or cytotoxic T lymphocytes - T lymphocytes are designed to kill cancer cells, infected cells (particularly with viruses), or cells damaged in other ways.

Regulatory T cells 

(Tregs), formerly known as suppressor T cells, are a sub-population of T cells that modulate the immune system, maintain tolerance to self-antigens, and prevent autoimmune disease.

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