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Immune Cell Cartoons Macrophage, Dendritic Cell, T Cells and B Cell

I hope you enjoy these cartoons!  Feel free to use them in your presentation or share them.  Just make sure to reference this page so that others know where to find the cartoons. If you have more questions on the use of these illustrations see Q&A.

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Lymphocytes

Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cells that help us fight disease!

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cartoon of lymphocytes T cells CD4, CD8, Treg and B cells

T cells are named after the organ they develop in, the Thymus.
Cytotoxic T cells (CTLs) are a special type of T cells with the ability to kill other cells. Usually they kill cells that have been infected with a virus. This way the virus can no longer use these cells for replicating inside of them. CTLs secrete cytotoxins to kill the other cells and are therefore called “cytotoxic” T cells.

CD8 CTL Killer T Cell Cartoon
CD4 T cell Lymphocyte Cartoon Super hero
Print poster with lymphocytes NK cell, CD8 T cell, B cell, Treg, CD4 T cell

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Plasma Cell shooting Antibodies

Plasma cells, are a specialized type of B cells that produce large volumes of antibodies. This B cell here is using those antibodies to neutralize an invading flu virus that has entered the body.
Plasma cell; B cell; shooting antibodies with a sling

Antibody producers
B cells in the human body develop in the bone marrow and are responsible for producing antibodies. The antibodies produced by B cells circulate around our body and bind to specific viruses or bacteria to neutralize them and help get them killed by other cells of the immune system

B cell Cartoon antibodies white background

Dendritic Cell

Dendritic cells (DCs) are named after their branched projections called dendrites. These cells are the sentinels of the immune system and are always testing their surroundings in case they see any danger. DCs process antigens they pick up from their surrounding and present these to T cells.

A big challenge of the immune system in the intestine is being able to distinguish between harmful pathogens and at the same time be tolerant towards harmless antigens derived from food and commensal bacteria (good bacteria). Mechanisms to maintain tolerance are therefore necessary to avoid unwanted immune responses that may lead to inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. The dendritic cells (DCs) found in the intestine are crucial to maintaining this equilibrium. DCs are constantly sampling antigens, such as food antigens. One way these cells sample antigens directly from the intestinal lumen is by inserting their dendritic processes between the epithelial cells layer.
Reference
1. Dendritic cells express tight junction proteins and penetrate gut epithelial monolayers to sample bacteria. Nat Immunol. 2001 Apr;2(4):361-7.

cartoon of monocyte-dericed dendritic cell

This monocyte turned into a dendritic cell (DC) and doesn’t even know how it happened!
Many researchers isolate monocytes and then derive them into DCs to do studies on these cells. It is a common method followed by people studying DCs that need to generate some cells for their experiments.
Protocols to generate monocyte-derived dendritic cells (Mo-DCs) 

Isolation and Generation of Human Dendritic Cells by Current Immunology Protocols

Antigen Presentation

DCs process antigens they pick up from their surrounding and present these to T cells.

Antigen presentation in the form of an immunological synapse between dendritic cell and t cell, love is in the air

The dendritic cell (DC) is presenting an antigen to a T cell but the T cell doesn’t recognize it. This is making the DC kind of sad.
The T cell will only recognize and respond to the antigen and MHC combination presented, if it has a T cell receptor (TCR) that recognizes these. This process is called MHC restriction.

Cartoon of Dendritic Cell Presenting Antigen on MHC to T Cell
T cell and dendritic cell kissing

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Macrophage

Macrophages are white blood cells. The word macrophage comes from the word macros “large” and phagein “eat”. Macrophages are big cells that eat.One of their main roles of these cells is to phagocytose (engulf and then digest) cellular debris and also pathogens such as bacteria. This process is known as PHAGOCYTOSIS

Phagocytosis is a complex mechanism that requires for the macrophage to rearrange its inner cell bits to surround and engulf the target. This animation is a cartoon depicting a macrophage chasing bacteria to ultimately phagocytose them.

Macrophage phagocytosis bacteria immunology

Leukocyte extravasation

Leukocyte extravasation is the movement of leukocytes out of the circulatory system and towards the site of tissue damage or infection. This process is regulated by a concerted action between endothelial cells and leukocytes, whereby endothelial cells activate leukocytes and direct them to extravasation sites, and leukocytes in turn instruct endothelial cells to open a path for transmigration.

Leukocyte extravasation cartoon showing immune cell migration

Neutrophil

Neutrophil are the most abundant type of white blood cells and are part of the granulocyte family or the polymorphonuclear cells family.  They get the name ‘polymorphonuclear cells’ because of the varying shapes of the nucleus, which is usually lobed into three segments.

Neutrophils are the first cells to get to the site of infection, they are professional phagocytes and ferocious eaters that rapidly engulf invaders.

Here is a video you can watch of a neutrophil chasing a bacteria.

neutrophil phagocytosis of bacteria

Granulocytes

These feisty granulocytes will defeat any bacteria, fungus or parasite that wants to mess with them. Check out the full blog post on granulocytes to lear more about each one of these cells.
Cartoon of granulocytes: neutrophil, basophil and eosinophil
Poster of granulocytes basophil, eosinophil and neutrophil

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Plant & Animal Cells

Plant cells and animal cells are both eukaryotic cells. Even though they have a lot of similarities they are different. One of these differences is that plant cells can generate their own glucose. This is made possible due to the chloroplasts. Animal cells on the other hand need to get their glucose from an outside source, a.k.a food.
Cartoon of plant cell with chloroplasts, vacuole and cell wall generating glucose

Infected Cell

This poor cell has been infected with a virus. The virus is replicating inside the cell, it needs the cell to replicate its genetic material and produce the proteins that make it up. These viral particles that were created by the cell are now being released.
Cartoon of infected cell shedding virus

Epithelial Cells

Epithelial cells form a layer that line several organs of the body providing a barrier to the outside world. In other words, the epithelial cells help to protect or enclose the organs.
Epithelial cells are held together by tight junctions, which form a virtually impermeable barrier to prevent leakage of fluid (including molecules and ions) across the cell layer, so materials must actually enter the cells in order to pass through the tissue.
Cartoon & biology illustration of epithelial cells held together by tight junctions

Flow Cytometry

Flow cytometry is a very commonly used technology to analyze the characteristics of cells or particles. For more information on this technique see the pdf on Introduction To Flow Cytometry by Abcam.
cartoon of a cell going through flow cytometer droplet

Host Pathogen Battles

Flow cytometry is a very commonly used technology to analyze the characteristics of cells or particles. For more information on this technique see the pdf on Introduction To Flow Cytometry by Abcam.
Cartoon Host-Pathogen Arm Wrestling

Dancing Cardiomyocites

Beat beat beat
Cartoon cardiomyocytes dancing and beating to the beat

Red Blood Cell Lysis

To analyze cells in the blood sometimes the red blood cells (RBCs) need to be removed. This can be done by lysing the cells. There are various RBC lysis buffers available that do just that.

Forum discussing how RBC lysis buffer works

Protocols:

Red Blood Cell Lysis Protocol by Centre of Immunology and Transplantation
Red Blood Cell Lysis Using ACK Lysing Buffer by ThemrmoFisher Scientific
Red blood cell lysis using Biolegend lysis buffer

red blood cell lysis illustration, red cell lysing after adding buffer

DAPI Stain

illustration of red blood cell and lymphocyte nucleus with DAPI stanining
DAPI stands for 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole and it is a fluorescent stain that binds to DNA in the nucleus. It is a stain used very often in fluorescence microscopy, when excited with ultraviolet light DAPI emits a blue light. This makes the stain very popular in fluorescence microscopy making the nuclei visible in a blue colour. As an example in the picture below there are various cells which you can distinguish by the blue nuclei and the cytoskeleton stained with another dye that emits a green light. The picture was taken from thermofisher. Mouse Anti Beta-Tubulin Monoclonal Antibody Nuclei (blue)

Fears of an adipocyte

Adipocytes are fat cells, which specialize in storing energy as fat.

There are lots of people out there who make their new year’s resolutions to loose weight. It is no surprising that these fat cells are scared of shrinking or disappearing completely.

cartoon of a fat cell or adipocyte

Red Blood Cells in Love

These two red blood cells (RBCs) fell in love! Red blood cells are found in the blood and therefore in the vein, get the joke? 😛

red blood cells fell in love in the vein science meme

Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell

Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) are professional Type I IFN producers.

plasmacytoid dendritic cell product IFN cartoon immunology

Allergies??

Allergies suck, don’t they?

immune cells release histamine during allergies against pollen

Flow Cytometry

Flow cytometry is a very commonly used technology to analyze the characteristics of cells or particles. For more information on this technique see the pdf on Introduction To Flow Cytometry by Abcam.
cartoon of a cell going through flow cytometer droplet