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CD4+ cells are sometimes also called T-cells, T-lymphocytes, or helper cells. Your CD4 cell count is the number of blood cells in a cubic millimeter of blood (a very small blood sample). It is not a count of all the CD4 cells in your body. A higher number indicates a stronger immune system.
The CD4+ cells play an important role in the immune system, particularly in the adaptive immune system. They help the activity of other immune cells by releasing T cell cytokines. HIV attack the CD4+ cells by using their replication machinery to create new copies of the virus until the cells swell up and burst. The death in the CD4+ T cells will cause a suppression of both cell-mediated and humoral immune responses.
CD4+ or T Helper/T4 cells are lymphocytes. Since they are a part of the immune system, the function of the CD4+ cells are to send signals to other immune cells that are receptors to protect the body from infection. This is an adaptive immune response. Specifically, the CD4+ cells send signals to CD8 “Killer” cells. Moreover, when CD4+ cells send signals, B cells also receive signals there is a foreign invader creating antigens. This is humoral immunity which is a quick process. B lymphocytes secrete antibodies in response to antigens. Unfortunately, the antigens in HIV is able to destroy the antibodies from responding and inhibits further immune cell growth.
With cell-mediated immunity, phagocytes are activated by antigens. Instead of antibodies being secreted, cytokines are secreted, which is a slow process. Cytokines are known for cell signaling or communication within the cell. They also contain receptors where HIV is able to bind to which makes a difference in how HIV is capable of replicating. Based on different sources, HIV is able to destroy CD4+ more easily than that of phagocytes.
Bauman, R. W. (2018). Microbiology: with diseases by body system. Hoboken: Pearson Education, Inc.
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Macrophages and their relevance in Human Immunodeficiency Virus (Koppensteiner, 2012) Retrieved from
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