Getting into specifics
B cells and T cells give us an immunological memory
In mammals, the specific (adaptive) immune system provides long-lasting protection against specific microbes or substances. It maintains a ‘memory’ of all the previous infections it has fought.
B cells, which are made in the bone marrow, produce antibodies. These proteins attach to very specific non-self markers, or antigens, of pathogens. T cells, which are made in the bone marrow but then mature in the thymus gland, express cell-surface receptors that fit the antigens on pathogens.
Cells specific to lots of different diseases patrol our bodies all the time. When they come across something that they recognise as a potential threat, they work to eliminate it. The B-cell response involving antibodies is often referred to as the humoral immune response, whereas T cells are associated with the cell-mediated immune response.
However, immune responses generally require a coordinated attack involving components of both the humoral and cell-mediated responses, and the specific and non-specific branches.Lead image:
Bret Syfert, ‘Big Picture’ CC BY