Negative regulators of T-cell activation: potential targets for therapeutic intervention in cancer, autoimmune disease, and persistent infections

Immunol Rev. 2009 May;229(1):67-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065X.2009.00763.x.


The generation of productive adaptive immune responses depends on the antigen-specific activation of T and B cells. The outcome of T-cell receptor engagement is influenced by signals from both positive and negative regulatory molecules that can either activate or inhibit T-cell function. CD28 and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 are the prototypical members of an immunoglobulin domain-containing protein family that play important roles in the control of T-cell responses against infection, cancer, and in autoimmune disease. Although the precise molecular details of their functions are still under active investigation, tumors and chronic pathogens seem to have exploited these pathways to achieve immune evasion. Furthermore, malfunction of the inhibitory arm of the immune response appears responsible for the development of multiple autoimmune pathologies. As a result, the negative regulators of T-cell activation have become attractive targets for therapeutic intervention in cancer, chronic infection, and autoimmune disease. The application of findings from basic research has provided insight into the manipulation of these pathways in the clinic and offers promising strategies for the treatment of disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / therapy*
  • CD28 Antigens / immunology
  • CTLA-4 Antigen
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Infections / therapy*
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Antigens, CD
  • CD28 Antigens
  • CTLA-4 Antigen
  • CTLA4 protein, human
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell