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Annu Rev Immunol. 2004;22:765-87.

Control of T cell viability.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Integrated Department of Immunology, National Jewish Medical and Research Center, and Department of Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado 80206, USA.


The factors affecting T cell viability vary depending on the type and status of the T cell involved. Naive T cells die via a Bcl-2/Bim dependent route. Their deaths are prevented in animals by IL-7 and contact with MHC. Activated T cells die in many different ways. Among these is a pathway involving signals that come from outside the T cell and affect it via surface receptors such as Fas. Activated T cells also die through a pathway driven by signals generated within the T cell itself, a cell autonomous route. This pathway involves members of the Bcl-2 family, in particular Bcl-2, Bcl-xl, Bim, and probably Bak. The viability of CD8+ and CD4+ memory T cells is controlled in different ways. CD8+ memory T cells are maintained by IL-15 and IL-7. The control of CD4+ memory T cells is more mysterious, with roles reported for IL-7 and/or contact via the TCR.

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