lymphocytes

All adaptive immune responses are mediated by lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are a class of white blood cells that bear variable cell-surface receptors for antigen. These receptors are encoded in rearranging gene segments. There are two main classes of lymphocyte—B lymphocytes (B cells) and T lymphocytes (T cells)—which mediate humoral and cell-mediated immunity, respectively. Small lymphocytes have little cytoplasm and condensed nuclear chromatin; on antigen recognition, the cell enlarges to form a lymphoblast and then proliferates and differentiates into an antigen-specific effector cell.