Cell Death pp 41-59 | Cite as

Molecular Basis of Cell Death Programs in Mature T Cell Homeostasis

  • Carrie L. Lucas
  • Michael J. LenardoEmail author


Overview of Peripheral T Cell Homeostasis

The lymphocyte is a major class of white blood cell that defends the body from attack by infectious agents and confers long-term protection through immunological memory. Lymphocytes are also involved in pathological immune reactions including graft rejection, allergies, and autoimmune disorders. Their remarkable capacity to proliferate up to 5,000-fold in response to antigen must be counterbalanced by a controlled process of removing cells. This is achieved through molecular pathways of programmed cell death, which maintain selective and specific homeostasis of the numbers of lymphocytes and other immune cells. We focus principally on cell death mechanisms in T lymphocytes that control the number of T cells of a given antigen specificity represented in the finite T cell niche. Here, we discuss the central role of caspases in the regulation of the general pathways of cell-extrinsic and cell-intrinsic T cell apoptosis and programmed necrosis with an overview of their importance for human health.


Lymphocyte Death receptor Fas RICD Mitochondria CWID ALPS XLP 


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Immunology, NIAID, NIHBethesdaUSA

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