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Nat Rev Immunol. 2002 Jun;2(6):401-9.

Cytotoxic T lymphocytes: all roads lead to death.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) provide potent defences against virus infection and intracellular pathogens. However, CTLs have a dark side--their lytic machinery can be directed against self-tissues in autoimmune disorders, transplanted cells during graft rejection and host tissues to cause graft-versus-host disease, which is one of the most serious diseases related to CTL function. Although this duplicitous behaviour might seem contradictory, both beneficial and detrimental effects are the result of the same effector proteins. So, an understanding of the mechanisms that are used by CTLs to destroy targets and a knowledge of pathogen immune-evasion strategies will provide vital information for the design of new therapies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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