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Immunol Rev. 2010 Jul;236:110-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065X.2010.00921.x.

Regulation of CD4+ T-cell contraction during pathogen challenge.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01655, USA.


Signals orchestrating productive CD4+ T-cell responses are well documented; however, the regulation of contraction of CD4+ T-cell effector populations following the resolution of primary immune responses is not well understood. While distinct mechanisms of T-cell death have been defined, the relative importance of discrete death pathways during the termination of immune responses in vivo remains unclear. Here, we review the current understanding of cell-intrinsic and -extrinsic variables that regulate contraction of CD4+ T-cell effector populations through multiple pathways that operate both initially during T-cell priming and later during the effector phase. We discuss the relative importance of antigen-dependent and -independent mechanisms of CD4+ T-cell contraction during in vivo responses, with a special emphasis on influenza virus infection. In this model, we highlight the roles of greater differentiation and presence in the lung of CD4+ effector T cells, as well as their polarization to particular T-helper subsets, in maximizing contraction. We also discuss the role of autocrine interleukin-2 in limiting the extent of contraction, and we point out that these same factors regulate contraction during secondary CD4+ T-cell responses.

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