Exhausted T Cells Come in Different Flavors

Connoisseurs of exhausted T cells, or Tex cells, may acquire the ability to recognize distinct disease histories. A discrete lineage of Tex cells, it turns out, may emit an epigenetic bouquet particular to a type of disease—a viral infection or cancer, for example. Already, nine distinct types of Tex cells have been identified by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.

In recent years, these researchers have been sensitizing themselves to key features of T-cell exhaustion, which include increased expression of inhibitory receptors, reduced cytokine production, weakened cell proliferation potential, and altered transcriptional program/epigenetic landscape. And now these researchers report that they have developed an assay to investigate the molecules that control gene expression in Tex cells.

Details appeared May 15 in the journal Immunity , in an article entitled “Epigenomic-Guided Mass Cytometry Profiling Reveals Disease-Specific Features of Exhausted CD8 T Cells.” This article describes how the researchers ...