CD4+ cells or helper T cells are produced in Thymus. How long these cells live? For example, RBC live for 3-4 months.


1 Answer 1


I will respond with a "story-like" approach. You may already know some info but I want to be sure I can help you fully understand!

Unlike RBC, you are born with all the CD4+ (or Th, as I refer to them) you will ever need in your lifetime in the primary organs of the immune system -- they are already specialized and ready to be used, and this has taken place in the thymus. On the other hand, RBC get renewed through erythropoiesis every ~120 days.

In utero, the thymus and bone marrow (primary organs) now supply secondary organs (lymph nodes, the spleen, the MALT) with the various cells they’ve made (B&T). However, only 5% leave the thymus, as 95% are recognized as "anti-self" and are killed. So this would be the first "killing" of Th cells. B cells live in the peripheral layer, while T cells live in the deep lymphoid tissue and the lymphoid dullet.

The dendritic cell will "wander" into the lymph node, carrying the fragment of antigen presentation on the MHC class 2 molecule-Dendritic cell resides between the B cell area and the T cell area. Now, the first specific thing occurs in the immune response, when the T cell receptor attaches to the antigen and tells cell says to make antibodies.

Now -- as of here, we have a lot of Th (and B) cells doing nothing while the antibody is being produced. Some of the Th will be killed, while some will serve as "memory Th cells" so that the next time such an antigen is present in your body, the response will be quicker. At this point, it's hard to distinguish which Th cells are dividing, and which are dying. The average lifespan has been reported to be >17 years. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24492253

I hope I have been able to help.

  • $\begingroup$ you are born with all the CD4+ (or Th, as I refer to them) you will ever need in your lifetime in the primary organs of the immune system This is flat wrong. At least read wikipedia before posting misleading answers. $\endgroup$
    – iayork
    Jan 26, 2018 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ @iayork Hi, this is what I've learned in my immunology class in uni. I checked my lecture notes before posting this and here is a direct quote: "You are born. You have all the machinery for the immune response, but it's sleeping. When you’re born, no antigen has been involved in the making of your cells. They have been specialized by evolution. They will function later in life by antigen exposure." This is what I was taught and I apologize if it was incorrect, but please don't accuse me of posting a misleading answer. I did attempt to verify. Genuinely thought an established prof was correct. $\endgroup$ Jan 27, 2018 at 0:56
  • $\begingroup$ The quote (and prof) is correct, but it doesn't say that all T cells are made by birth, just that the machinery for making them is available. $\endgroup$
    – iayork
    Jan 27, 2018 at 1:41
  • $\begingroup$ @iayork that is what I meant to imply... Everything that goes on to occur once an infection/antigen is present results from those Th cells. I go on to say that they do divide. Apologies if unclear. $\endgroup$ Jan 27, 2018 at 2:20
  • $\begingroup$ You still don't get it. New T cells are formed in bone marrow throughout your lifetime. They are not all formed at birth. $\endgroup$
    – iayork
    Jan 27, 2018 at 2:58

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