Telomeres in T and B cells

Nat Rev Immunol. 2002 Sep;2(9):699-706. doi: 10.1038/nri890.


Telomeres are the structures at the ends of linear chromosomes. In mammalian cells, they consist of hexanucleotide (TTAGGG) repeats, together with many associated proteins. In the absence of a compensatory mechanism, dividing cells undergo gradual telomere erosion until a critical degree of shortening results in chromosomal abnormalities and cell death or senescence. For T and B cells, the ability to undergo extensive cell division and clonal expansion is crucial for effective immune function. This article describes our current understanding of telomere-length regulation in lymphocytes and its implications for immune function.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / ultrastructure
  • Cell Division
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / immunology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Active
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / ultrastructure
  • Telomerase / analysis
  • Telomerase / biosynthesis
  • Telomerase / genetics
  • Telomere / chemistry
  • Telomere / immunology*


  • Telomerase