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Cell Tissue Res. 2000 Jul;301(1):85-99.

Regulation of activation-induced cell death of mature T-lymphocyte populations.

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Institute for Immunology, Christian Albrechts University, Kiel, Germany.


Resting mature T lymphocytes are activated when triggered via their antigen-specific T-cell receptor (TCR) to elicit an appropriate immune response. In contrast, preactivated T cells may undergo activation-induced cell death (AICD) in response to the same signals. along with cell death induced by growth factor deprivation, AICD followed by the elimination of useless or potentially harmful cells preserves homeostasis, leads to the termination of cellular immune responses and ensures peripheral tolerance. T-cell apoptosis and AICD are controlled by survival cytokines such as interleukin-2 (IL-2) and by death factors such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and CD95 ligand (CD95L). In AICD-sensitive T cells, stimulation upregulates expression of one or several death factors, which in turn engage specific death receptors on the same or a neighboring cell. Death receptors are activated by oligomerization to rapidly assemble a number of adapter proteins and enzymes to result in an irreversible activation of proteases and nucleases that culminates in cell death by apoptosis. Increased knowledge of the molecular mechanisms that regulate AICD of lymphocytes opens new immunotherapeutic perspectives for the treatment of certain autoimmune diseases, and has implications in other areas such as transplantation medicine and AIDS research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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