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Trends Immunol. 2012 Apr;33(4):168-73. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2012 Feb 17.

Metabolic pathways in T cell fate and function.

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Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, Duke University, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


T cell growth and function must be tightly regulated to provide protection against foreign pathogens, while avoiding autoimmunity and immunodeficiency. It is now apparent that T cell metabolism is highly dynamic and has a tremendous impact on the ability of T cells to grow, activate and differentiate. Specific metabolic pathways provide energy and biosynthetic precursors that must support specific cell functions, as effector, regulatory, memory, and alloreactive T cells have distinct metabolic needs in immunity and inflammation. Here, we review the signaling pathways that control metabolism and how the metabolic phenotypes of T cell subtypes integrate with T cell function. Ultimately, these metabolic differences may provide new opportunities to modulate the immune response and treat inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

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