Regulation of T-cell immune exhaustion and cancer immunotherapy

Shingo Eikawa, Heiichiro Udono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In chronic infectious diseases and cancer, CD8+ T cells specific for viral and/or tumor antigens undergo repeated T cell receptor (TCR) stimulation due to the persistence of pathogens or cancer cells, gradually losing their ability to secrete interleukin 2 (IL-2), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and interferon-γ-(IFN-γ). These CD8+ T cells are finally eliminated by apoptosis, a process referred to as immune exhaustion. The worsening immune function is accompanied by phenotypic changes in CD8+ T cells, for example, by changes in the expression of exhaustion markers such as programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1), cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4), T cell immunoglobulin mucin 3 (TIM-3), and lymphocyte activation gene 3 (LAG-3). The exhaustion molecules on CD8+ T cells interact with their respective ligands and induce negative signals in activated T cells, leading to CD8+ T cell dysfunction. In 2013, the combined use of anti-PD-1 and anti-CTLA-4 antibodies was shown to induce extraordinary anti-tumor effects in patients with advanced melanoma. The regulation of exhausted CD8+ T cells has now emerged as a promising therapy to treat cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1066-1070
Number of pages5
JournalJapanese Journal of Cancer and Chemotherapy
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2014


  • Cd8 T cell
  • Immune exhaustion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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