Control of T cell viability

Annu Rev Immunol. 2004;22:765-87. doi: 10.1146/annurev.immunol.22.012703.104554.


The factors affecting T cell viability vary depending on the type and status of the T cell involved. Naive T cells die via a Bcl-2/Bim dependent route. Their deaths are prevented in animals by IL-7 and contact with MHC. Activated T cells die in many different ways. Among these is a pathway involving signals that come from outside the T cell and affect it via surface receptors such as Fas. Activated T cells also die through a pathway driven by signals generated within the T cell itself, a cell autonomous route. This pathway involves members of the Bcl-2 family, in particular Bcl-2, Bcl-xl, Bim, and probably Bak. The viability of CD8+ and CD4+ memory T cells is controlled in different ways. CD8+ memory T cells are maintained by IL-15 and IL-7. The control of CD4+ memory T cells is more mysterious, with roles reported for IL-7 and/or contact via the TCR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Death / immunology
  • Cell Survival / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*