What is CD8?

CD8 (cluster of differentiation 8) is predominantly expressed on the surface of cytotoxic T cells but is also present on natural killer cells, cortical thymocytes, and dendritic cells. CD8 functions as a co-receptor for MHC class I molecules. When T cells interact with antigen-presenting cells, the CD8 heterodimer binds to a conserved portion of MHC class I. CD8 T cells play a critical role in fighting intracellular pathogens, including viruses and bacteria, as well as monitoring tumors. When a CD8 T cell recognizes its antigen and becomes activated, it has three central mechanisms to kill infected or malignant cells. The first is the secretion of cytokines (primarily TNF-α and IFN-γ), the second is the production and release of cytotoxic granules, and the third is the destruction of infected cells via Fas/FasL interactions. 

Alternative analyte names:Cluster of differentiation 8, CD8
Cell types:Tc
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