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Homeostatic maintenance of T cells and natural killer cells


Homeostasis in the immune system encompasses the mechanisms governing maintenance of a functional and diverse pool of lymphocytes, thus guaranteeing immunity to pathogens while remaining self-tolerant. Antigen-naive T cells rely on survival signals through contact with self-peptide-loaded major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules plus interleukin (IL)-7. Conversely, antigen-experienced (memory) T cells are typically MHC-independent and they survive and undergo periodic homeostatic proliferation through contact with both IL-7 and IL-15. Also, non-conventional gammadelta T cells rely on a mix of IL-7 and IL-15 for their homeostasis, whereas natural killer cells are mainly dependent on contact with IL-15. Homeostasis of CD4(+) T regulatory cells is different in being chiefly regulated by contact with IL-2. Notably, increased levels of these cytokines cause expansion of responsive lymphocytes, such as found in lymphopenic hosts or following cytokine injection, whereas reduced cytokine levels cause a decline in cell numbers.

Type Journal
Authors Boyman, O.; Krieg, C.; Homann, D.; Sprent, J.:
Published Date 2012-05-20
Published Volume 69
Published Issue 10
Published Pages 1597-608
Status Published in-print
DOI 10.1007/s00018-012-0968-7
URL link to publisher's version
OpenAccess link to author's accepted manuscript version