Antigen-presenting cell – Definition & Meaning

The immune system is a complex network of cells and molecules that work together to protect the body from harmful invaders. One of the key players in this system is the antigen-presenting cell (APC). In this article, we will explore the definition, meaning, and associations of the antigen-presenting cell.


An antigen-presenting cell (APC) is a specialized immune cell that presents foreign substances, known as antigens, to other immune cells. The purpose of this presentation is to activate the immune system and initiate an immune response against the invading pathogen.
There are several types of APCs, including dendritic cells, macrophages, and B cells. Each type of APC has a unique function in the immune system and plays a critical role in the recognition and elimination of pathogens.


The concept of antigen presentation was first proposed in the 1960s by Peter Medawar and Jean Dausset, who received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1960 and 1980, respectively. The first antigen-presenting cell to be identified was the dendritic cell, which was discovered in the 1970s.
Since then, research has revealed the critical role of APCs in the immune system and their involvement in a wide range of diseases, including cancer, infectious diseases, and autoimmune disorders.

Meaning in different dictionaries

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an antigen-presenting cell is “a cell of the immune system that displays foreign antigens to other cells of the immune system, thereby initiating an immune response.”
The Oxford English Dictionary defines an antigen-presenting cell as “a cell, typically a dendritic cell, macrophage, or B cell, that displays processed antigens on its surface in order to activate T cells and initiate an immune response.”


APCs are associated with a wide range of immune-related processes, including:

  • Recognition and elimination of pathogens.
  • Activation of T cells.
  • Initiation of an immune response.
  • Regulation of immune tolerance.
  • Development of autoimmune disorders.
  • Cancer immunotherapy.


Some synonyms for antigen-presenting cell include:

  • Dendritic cell.
  • Macrophage.


There are no direct antonyms for antigen-presenting cell, as it is a specific type of immune cell with a unique function.

The same root words

The root words in antigen-presenting cell are:

  • Antigen – a substance that triggers an immune response.
  • Presenting – displaying or showing something.
  • Cell – a basic unit of life.

Example Sentences

  1. Dendritic cells are the most potent antigen-presenting cells in the immune system.
  2. Macrophages are a type of antigen-presenting cell that plays a critical role in the recognition and elimination of pathogens.
  3. B cells are a type of antigen-presenting cell that presents antigens to T cells to initiate an immune response.
  4. The activation of antigen-presenting cells is a crucial step in the development of cancer immunotherapy.
  5. Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system fails to recognize self-antigens and attacks the body’s own cells, despite the presence of antigen-presenting cells.
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