The spectrum of T cell metabolism in health and disease Review uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Killer Cells, Natural
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • In healthy individuals, metabolically quiescent T cells survey lymph nodes and peripheral tissues in search of cognate antigens. During infection, T cells that encounter cognate antigens are activated and - in a context-specific manner - proliferate and/or differentiate to become effector T cells. This process is accompanied by important changes in cellular metabolism (known as metabolic reprogramming). The magnitude and spectrum of metabolic reprogramming as it occurs in T cells in the context of acute infection ensure host survival. By contrast, altered T cell metabolism, and hence function, is also observed in various disease states, in which T cells actively contribute to pathology. In this Review, we introduce the idea that the spectrum of immune cell metabolic states can provide a basis for categorizing human diseases. Specifically, we first summarize the metabolic and interlinked signalling requirements of T cells responding to acute infection. We then discuss how metabolic reprogramming of T cells is linked to disease.

publication date

  • January 2018



  • Review



  • eng

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/nri.2017.99

PubMed ID

  • 28944771

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 19

end page

  • 34


  • 18


  • 1