|B lymphocyte cell|
|Anatomical terms of microanatomy|
B cells, also known as B lymphocytes, are a type of white blood cell of the lymphocyte subtype. They function in the humoral immunity component of the adaptive immune system. B cells produce antibody molecules which may be either secreted or inserted into the plasma membrane where they serve as a part of B-cell receptors. When a naïve or memory B cell is activated by an antigen, it proliferates and differentiates into an antibody-secreting effector cell, known as a plasmablast or plasma cell. In addition, B cells present antigens (they are also classified as professional antigen-presenting cells, APCs) and secrete cytokines. In mammals, B cells mature in the bone marrow, which is at the core of most bones. In birds, B cells mature in the bursa of Fabricius, a lymphoid organ where they were first discovered by Chang and Glick, which is why the B stands for bursa and not bone marrow, as commonly believed.
B cells, unlike the other two classes of lymphocytes, T cells and natural killer cells, express B cell receptors (BCRs) on their cell membrane. BCRs allow the B cell to bind to a foreign antigen, against which it will initiate an antibody response. B cell receptors are extremely specific, with all BCRs on a B cell recognizing the same epitope.
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