T Cell Immunity

  • Shalu Sharma Kharkwal
  • Steven A. PorcelliEmail author


T cells are major effector and regulatory lymphocytes of the immune system and are critically important contributors to adaptive immune responses. Antigen-specific T cells develop in the thymus where they undergo an intricate maturation and selection process. This allows their expression of clonally diverse antigen receptors that recognize cognate antigens, which in the majority of cases are peptides derived from foreign or self-proteins that are presented by major histocompatibility complex molecules. T cells express specific cell surface and intracellular proteins that allow them to be identified and distinguished from other types of leukocytes and also to be separated into a growing variety of distinct subsets with different functions. Current knowledge on the diversity of T cell subsets extends far beyond the originally recognized phenotypic and functional dichotomy of CD4+ helper versus CD8+ cytotoxic T cells. In addition, a variety of less numerous nonconventional T cell subtypes have been recognized, including specialized populations such as γδ T cells, NKT cells, and MAIT cells. These share some features with conventional T cells but also differ in important ways with respect to the nature of their cognate antigens and the mechanisms by which these are presented. The current chapter provides a general overview of the principal features of conventional T cells and also briefly covers the properties and proposed functions of the less well-understood nonconventional T cell subsets.


T cell Major histocompatibility complex Antigen receptor Cytokine Costimulation Co-receptor 



Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome


Antigen-presenting cell


B cell receptor


Cluster of differentiation


Cytotoxic T lymphocyte


Cytotoxic lymphocyte-associated molecule-4


Dendritic cell


Double negative




Human immunodeficiency virus


Inducible costimulatory signal


Intraepithelial lymphocytes


Interferon gamma




Immune dysregulation, polyendocrinopathy, enteropathy X-linked


Mucosa-associated invariant T


Major histocompatibility complex


Natural killer


Natural killer T


Programmed death


Peptide-MHC complex


T cytotoxic cell


T cell receptor


Follicular helper T cell


Transforming growth factor β


T helper cell


T regulatory cell



The authors acknowledge support from NIH grants AI45889 and AI093649 (both awarded to SAP).


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Microbiology and ImmunologyAlbert Einstein College of MedicineBronxUSA

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