Cytokine signals in T-cell homeostasis

Martin Guimond, Terry J. Fry, Crystal L. Mackall

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Thymic production of T cells declines rapidly with age, and therefore homeostatic cycling (HC) of mature lymphocytes plays an important role in maintaining stable numbers of mature T lymphocytes bearing sufficient repertoire diversity. Following lymphocyte depletion, HC changes in quality and magnitude, resulting in homeostatic peripheral expansion (HPE), a state of widespread T-cell cycling that serves to increase T-cell number and to maintain T-cell repertoire diversity to the greatest extent possible. Recent studies delineating the requirements for HC and HPE have shown that naive CD4+ cells and naive CD8+ cells require both IL7 and TCR engagement for survival, cycling, and homeostatic expansion, whereas CD8+ memory cells are maintained and expanded by cytokine signals alone, independent of TCR engagement. While basal levels of IL15 are sufficient for HC and HPE of CD8 + memory cells, supranormal levels of IL7 will also suffice. The requirements for memory CD4+ cells remain unclear, but current models hypothesize that either IL7 or TCR triggering may be sufficient. Thus, the changes in immune physiology that are present in lymphopenic hosts can be largely accounted for by cytokine-driven signals, especially those rendered by IL7 or IL15. As the alterations in immune physiology present in lymphopenic hosts may be conducive to stronger antitumor immune responsiveness, careful delineation of the factors responsible may be expected to give rise to approaches to augment the effectiveness of current antitumor immunotherapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-294
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Immunotherapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Homeostatic peripheral expansion
  • IL15
  • IL7
  • Lymphopenia
  • T-cell homeostasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research


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