cytotoxic T cell

noun
variants: or less commonly cytotoxic T lymphocyte
plural cytotoxic T cells also cytotoxic T lymphocytes

Definition of cytotoxic T cell

: a T cell that usually bears CD8 molecular markers on its surface and that functions in cell-mediated immunity by destroying a cell (such as a virus-infected cell) having a specific antigenic molecule displayed on its surface Viruses use many tricks to persist in an immunocompetent host, one of them being mutation of the sequences (epitopes) recognized by the host's viral-specific cytotoxic T cells.— Rolf M. Zinkernagel and Hans Hengartner cytotoxic T cells which recognize foreign determinants in association with class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigens.— Pauline Johnson et al.

called also cytolytic T cell, killer T cell

First Known Use of cytotoxic T cell

1975, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About cytotoxic T cell

Time Traveler for cytotoxic T cell

Time Traveler

The first known use of cytotoxic T cell was in 1975

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near cytotoxic T cell

cytotoxic

cytotoxic T cell

cytotoxin

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for cytotoxic T cell

Cite this Entry

“Cytotoxic T cell.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cytotoxic%20T%20cell. Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for cytotoxic T cell

cytotoxic T cell

noun
variants: also cytotoxic T lymphocyte

Medical Definition of cytotoxic T cell

: a T cell that usually bears CD8 molecular markers on its surface and that functions in cell-mediated immunity by destroying a cell (as a virus-infected cell) having a specific antigenic molecule on its surface Viruses use many tricks to persist in an immunocompetent host, one of them being mutation of the sequences (epitopes) recognized by the host's viral-specific cytotoxic T cells.— Rolf M. Zinkernagel and Hans Hengartner

called also CTL, cytolytic T cell, cytolytic T lymphocyte, killer T cell, killer T lymphocyte

— compare helper t cell, suppressor t cell

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!