Features of responding T cells in cancer and chronic infection

Curr Opin Immunol. 2010 Apr;22(2):223-30. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2010.02.005. Epub 2010 Mar 6.


Ever since T cell exhaustion was initially characterized and thoroughly analyzed in the murine LCMV model, such a functional impairment has been validated in other chronic viral infections such as HIV, HCV, and HBV. In tumor immunology, it has always been postulated that tumor-reactive T cells could also become functionally exhausted owing to the high tumor-antigen load and accompanying inhibitory mechanisms. However, the empirical evidences for this hypothesis have not been as extensive as in chronic infection perhaps because much of the focus on T cell dysfunction in tumor immunology has been, and appropriately so, on breaking or bypassing immune tolerance and anergy to tumor/self antigens. On the basis of recent reports, it is becoming clear that T cell exhaustion also plays a crucial role in the impairment of antitumor immunity. In this review, we will comparatively evaluate the T cell responses in cancer and chronic infection, and the therapeutic strategies and interventions for both diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Cancer Vaccines*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Immunosuppression
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*
  • Virus Diseases / therapy


  • Antigens, CD
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • PDCD1 protein, human
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor