Mitochondrial activity in T cells

Mitochondrion. 2018 Jul;41:51-57. doi: 10.1016/j.mito.2017.10.006. Epub 2017 Oct 12.


Mitochondria fulfill important and diverse roles during the different stages of T cell adaptive responses. Here we discuss the role of the mitochondria in T cells from the initial steps of activation at the immune synapse to their participation in memory response and T cell exhaustion. Mitochondria are relocated to the immune synapse in order to supply local ATP and to aid calcium signaling. During expansion and proliferation, mitochondrial reactive oxygen species drive proliferation. Aerobic glycolysis, glutaminolysis and fatty acid oxidation regulate the program of differentiation into effector or regulatory T cell subsets, and mitochondrial remodeling proteins are required for the long-lasting phenotype of memory cells.

Keywords: Calcium signaling; Immune synapse; Immunometabolism; Immunotherapy; Inflammation; Mitochondrial ROS; Organelle communication.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Metabolic Diseases / immunology*
  • Metabolic Diseases / pathology
  • Mitochondria / immunology*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*