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A lymphocyte is a cell with a single round nucleus, that is in the lymphatic system and bloodstream that enables adaptive immunity within the body.

Lymphocytes are white blood cell predominantly found in the lymph glands. Lymphocytes each only present 1 type of antigen-receptor protein on their surface, and these can bind to only one specific antigen. This is because each lymphocyte is part of a clone (identical cells from the same common ancestral cell), all exhibiting the single type of antigen receptor.

The lymph fluid travels around the body via lymph glands, lymphocytes are therefore able to carry out immune surveillance, by recognising protein particles. Lymphocytes recognise antigens by distinct differences in the protective protein coats of foreign bodies, from somatic cells[1].

If the specific lymphocyte clones antigen-receptor recognises and binds to an antigen then the lymphocyte undergoes clonal selection. The activation of the lymphocytes makes them divide rapidly to produce many more clones, with the same antigen receptor[2].


  1. Medical News Today. (2018, Feb). What are lymphocytes and what are healthy levels to have? Joana Cavaco Silva. Available at: (Accessed: 2.12.18)
  2. Science Direct. (1998). Clonal Selection. Clonal Selection. Norman R.Klinman. Available at: (Accessed 2.12.18)

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