Metabolic coordination of T cell quiescence and activation

Nat Rev Immunol. 2020 Jan;20(1):55-70. doi: 10.1038/s41577-019-0203-y. Epub 2019 Aug 12.


Naive T cells are actively maintained in a quiescent state that promotes their survival and persistence. On antigen stimulation, T cells exit quiescence to initiate clonal expansion and effector differentiation. Initial studies focused on the immune receptors and transcriptional regulators involved in T cell quiescence and activation, but recent findings highlight cell metabolism as a crucial regulator of these processes. Here we summarize these intrinsic metabolic programmes and also describe how cell-extrinsic factors, such as nutrients and regulatory T cells, directly and indirectly balance quiescence and activation programmes in conventional T cells. We propose that immunological cues and nutrients license and tune metabolic programmes and signalling networks that communicate in a bidirectional manner to promote quiescence exit. Understanding the programmes that regulate T cell quiescence will be key for developing novel approaches to modulate protective and pathological T cell responses in human diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*