This free elearning course was developed to provide a succinct, contextual overview of basic T cell biology and applications for studying T cells in the laboratory.

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Overview

The T Cell Stimulation and Proliferation eLearning Course comprises two learning modules and a practical application module.

Learning module part 1 covers these aspects of T cell biology in translational biomedical science:

  • Basic T cell biology in the context of the wider immune system,
  • T cell structure and function, T cell receptor signaling
  • T cell activation and proliferation (antigen presenting cell interactions and T effector functions)
  • T cell subsets (including subset-specific signature cytokines and other proteins)

Learning module part 2 covers T cell isolation and in vitro activation, assessment of T cell activation, proliferation, and differentiation by these methods:

  • Flow cytometric analysis
  • Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs)
  • Multiplex Luminex assays

Practical Application module gives you the opportunity to design a multiparameter flow cytometric experiment to assess T cell activity, using what you have learned in Parts 1 and 2.


Learning objectives

After completion of the T Cell Stimulation and Proliferation eLearning Course, you should be able to:

  • Explain how T cell biology research contributes to advances in modern medical science
  • Define the origin and nature of the T cell
  • Detail the role of T cells in the adaptive immune response
  • List and differentiate T-helper and T-cytotoxic subsets
  • Discuss how the T cell subsets manifest effector function through cytokine secretion or direct cell-mediated cytotoxicity
  • Identify structural components of the T cell receptor (TCR)
  • Describe key interactions and signaling processes required for T cell activation
  • Detail key signaling pathways and transcription factors downstream of the TCR
  • List phenotypic differences between naïve and activated T cells

Video excerpt from the eLearning Course

Below is an example of the content within the T Cell Stimulation and Proliferation Course.

Example of technical content

Figure 1. Role of T cells in adaptive immune response.

Here we present an example of the content from the T Cell Stimulation and Proliferation eLearning course.

Role of T Cells

T cells are primarily involved in adaptive rather than innate immune responses. Adaptive immunity is mediated by both CD4 and CD8-positive T cells and by antibody-producing B cells. Adaptive immunity is a relatively slow response triggered by the recognition antigens. Importantly, the adaptive immune response improves with time and results in the generation of immunological memory and long-lasting protection.

The innate immune response provides for a rapid first-line of defense against infection and is promoted by a diverse array of immune cell types shown here. Innate immunity is not dependent upon prior antigen exposure and does not result in immunological memory.

Following antigen exposure (Figure 1), stimulated T cells undergo clonal expansion and differentiate into effector cells that manifest effector function through cell-mediated cytotoxicity or cytokine secretion.  In order to proliferate, differentiate, and express effector function, activated T cells undergo a significant shift in phenotype compared to their naïve counterparts.

This shift involves the induction of a myriad of factors including effector cytokines, lineage-restricted transcription factors, and surface markers such as co-stimulatory molecules, immune checkpoint proteins, adhesion molecules, chemokine receptors, and other receptor proteins.