by Jason Wasserman MD PhD FRCPC
March 9, 2022
A lymphocyte is a specialized type of immune cell and a type of white blood cell (WBC). Lymphocytes are responsible for protecting our body from infections and for helping us heal after an injury. Normal lymphocytes are small cells with a limited amount of cytoplasm (cell body) surrounding a dark round nucleus.
There are different types of lymphocytes including T-lymphocytes, B-lymphocytes, plasma cells, and natural killer cells. Each cell type has a different function in the body.
Inflammation is a normal process that serves to help the body heal after an infection or injury. Lymphocytes help in this process by removing micro-organisms (such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites) and by producing chemicals that promote healing. For this reason, pathologists often describe lymphocytes as inflammatory cells and the process as chronic inflammation.
Although lymphocytes are designed to protect our body and help us heal, some medical conditions are caused by lymphocytes damaging our tissue. These types of medical conditions include inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
Examples of common medical conditions caused by lymphocytes: