B cells vs. T cells

Because I’m always confused about this, I want to write a post to remind myself the roles of B and T cells. This is pretty rough and is not entirely correct but it’s at a level of detail that I care to remember.


  • Both B and T cells are lymphocytes (white blood cells) and they are both a part of the adaptive immune response.
  • They both recognize antigens.
  • There are memory B cells as well as memory T cells.


  • Once a B cell is activated, it either differentiates into a plasma cell or a memory B cell. Plasma cells don’t attack anything but it produces antibodies. Memory cells go through a maturation process to gain better affinity to the antigen. They stay around and makes it faster for the body to respond next time it’s attacked.
  • B cells do not directly attack. The antibodies released helps macrophages to attack.
  • B cells directly recognize antigens.
  • T cells do not make antibody.
  • T cells can not directly recognize antigen. It requires HLA to present the antigen to it.
  • There are two types of T cells: helper T cells and cytotoxic T cells. Helper T cells helps to activate B cells. Cytotoxic T cells kills the foreign enemy.
  • B cells have the Y shaped receptor from VJD recombination. Upon activation, it adapts itself to better recognize target.
  • T cells do not evolve over the lifetime of the individual.
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