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Cell Death Differ. 2009 Jan;16(1):79-86. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2008.113. Epub 2008 Jul 18.

Autophagy in CD4+ T-cell immunity and tolerance.

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  • 1Laboratory of Viral Immunobiology, Christopher H. Browne Center for Immunology and Immune Diseases, The Rockefeller University, Box 390, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021-6399, USA.


Autophagy is a homeostatic process that enables eukaryotic cells to deliver cytoplasmic constituents for lysosomal degradation, to recycle nutrients and to survive during starvation. In addition to these primordial functions, autophagy has emerged as a key mechanism in orchestrating innate and adaptive immune responses to intracellular pathogens. Autophagy restricts viral infections as well as replication of intracellular bacteria and parasites and delivers pathogenic determinants for TLR stimulation and for MHC class II presentation to the adaptive immune system. Apart from its role in defense against pathogens, autophagy-mediated presentation of self-antigens in the steady state could have a crucial role in the induction and maintenance of CD4(+) T-cell tolerance. This review describes the mechanisms by which the immune system utilizes autophagic degradation of cytoplasmic material to regulate adaptive immune responses.

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