Il-21 in homeostasis of resident memory and exhausted cd8 t cells during persistent infection

Heather M. Ren, Aron E. Lukacher

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


CD4 T cells guide the development of CD8 T cells into memory by elaborating mitogenic and differentiation factors and by licensing professional antigen-presenting cells. CD4 T cells also act to stave off CD8 T cell dysfunction during repetitive antigen stimulation in persistent infection and cancer by mitigating generation of exhausted T cells (TEX). CD4 T cell help is also required for establishing and maintaining tissue-resident memory T cells (TRM), the nonrecirculating memory T cell subset parked in nonlymphoid tissues to provide frontline defense against reinvading pathogens. Interleukin (IL)-21 is the signature cytokine secreted by follicular helper CD4 T cells (TFH) to drive B cell expansion and differentiation in germinal centers to mount high-affinity, isotype class-switched antibodies. In several infection models, IL-21 has been identified as the CD4 T help needed for formation and survival of TRM and TEX. In this review, we will explore the different memory subsets of CD8 T cells in persistent infections, the metabolic profiles associated with each, and evidence documenting the importance of CD4 T cell-derived IL-21 in regulating CD8 TRM and TEX development, homeostasis, and function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6966
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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