Cytokines and the inception of CD8 T cell responses

Trends Immunol. 2011 Apr;32(4):180-6. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2011 Mar 2.


The activation and differentiation of CD8 T cells is a necessary first step that endows these cells with the phenotypic and functional properties required for the control of intracellular pathogens. The induction of the CD8 T cell responses typically results in the development of a massive overall population of effector cells, comprising both highly functional but short-lived terminally differentiated cells, as well as a smaller subset of precursors that are predisposed to survive and transition into the memory T cell pool. In this review, we discuss how inflammatory cytokines and IL-2 bias the initial response towards short-lived effector generation, and also highlight the potential counterbalancing role of IL-21.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Interleukin-2 / immunology*
  • Interleukins / immunology*


  • Interleukin-2
  • Interleukins
  • interleukin-21