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15. Killer Cells: Cytotoxic Ts and NKs

Killer Cells: Cytotoxic Ts and NKs


At least two types of lymphocytes are killer cells--cytotoxic T cells and natural killer cells. Both types contain granules filled with potent chemicals. Both types kill on contact. They bind their targets, aim their weapons, and deliver bursts of lethal chemicals.

To attack, cytotoxic T cells need to recognize a specific antigen bound to self-MHC markers, whereas natural killer (NK) cells will recognize and attack cells lacking these. This gives NK cells the potential to attack many types of foreign cells.