cytotoxic T cells

Last reviewed 01/2018

Cytotoxic T cells are recognised by being positive for the cluster of differentiation antigen CD8. They may therefore be referred to as CD8+ cells.

Cytotoxic T cells recognise virally infected cells by the specific binding of their T cell antigen receptor (CD8) to a viral antigen-MHC class I complex on the surface of an infected cell. The cytotoxic T cell then releases cytokines which bring about the death of the infected cell.