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Immunity. 2008 Dec 19;29(6):848-62. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2008.11.002.

Homeostasis of naive and memory T cells.

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  • 1The Scripps Research Institute, 10550 N. Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


The peripheral mature T cell pool is regulated by complex homeostatic mechanisms. Naive T cells are maintained by interleukin-7 (IL-7) and T cell receptor (TCR) signaling from contact with major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which sustain expression of antiapoptotic molecules and allow the cells to survive in interphase. Competition for these ligands declines when T cell numbers are reduced and causes residual naive T cells to proliferate and differentiate into memory-like cells. This memory cell population is thus heterogeneous and comprised of cells derived from responses to both foreign and self-antigens. Typical memory cells are kept alive and induced to divide intermittently by a mixture of IL-7 and IL-15. This review highlights recent advances in how naive and memory T cell homeostasis is regulated.

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