Interleukin-7: master regulator of peripheral T-cell homeostasis?

Trends Immunol. 2001 Oct;22(10):564-71. doi: 10.1016/s1471-4906(01)02028-2.


Recent evidence has implicated interleukin-7 (IL-7) as a master regulator of T-cell homeostasis, based upon its essential role in the homeostatic expansion of naive T-cell populations in response to low-affinity antigens (Ags) and its capacity to enhance dramatically the expansion of peripheral T-cell populations in response to high-affinity Ags. Furthermore, T-cell-depleted humans have a unique inverse relationship between the peripheral CD4(+) T-cell count and the level of circulating IL-7. Together, these data suggest that increased amounts of IL-7 become available following T-cell depletion, thus, enhancing the high- and low-affinity Ag-driven expansion of the population of residual, mature T cells and boosting thymic regenerative capacity, as a means to restore T-cell homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Homeostasis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-7 / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Lymphocyte Depletion
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Interleukin-7
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell