Leucine Metabolism in T Cell Activation: mTOR Signaling and Beyond

Elitsa A. Ananieva, Jonathan D. Powell, Susan M. Hutson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In connection with the increasing interest in metabolic regulation of the immune response, this review discusses current advances in understanding the role of leucine and leucine metabolism in T lymphocyte (T cell) activation. T cell activation during the development of an immune response depends on metabolic reprogramming to ensure that sufficient nutrients and energy are taken up by the highly proliferating T cells. Leucine has been described as an important essential amino acid and a nutrient signal that activates complex 1 of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTORC1), which is a critical regulator of T cell proliferation, differentiation, and function. The role of leucine in these processes is further discussed in relation to amino acid transporters, leucine-degrading enzymes, and other metabolites of leucine metabolism. A new model of T cell regulation by leucine is proposed and outlines a chain of events that leads to the activation of mTORC1 in T cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)798S-805S
JournalAdvances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • BCATc
  • KIC
  • T cells
  • immune function
  • leucine
  • mTORC1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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