Feeding an army: The metabolism of T cells in activation, anergy, and exhaustion

Mol Immunol. 2015 Dec;68(2 Pt C):492-6. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2015.07.026.


Through the direct control of infection or by providing cytokine signals to other cellular players, T cells play a central role in the orchestration of the immune response. However, in many disease states, T cells are rendered dysfunctional, unable to carry out their effector functions. As T cell activation is bioenergetically demanding, some T cell dysfunction can have metabolic underpinnings. In this review, we will discuss how T cells are programmed to fuel their effector response, and how programmed or pathologic changes can disrupt their ability to generate the energy needed to proliferate and carry out their critical functions.

Keywords: Anergy; Exhaustion; Metabolism; T cells; Tolerance; mTOR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clonal Anergy / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*