Immune responses during infection, injury, and cancer proceed in the presence of tissue injury and cell death. Consequently, the system must deal with its own dead cells while it determines the appropriate response to the invader. As apoptotic cells are known to induce immune tolerance and necrotic cells can be potent stimulators of immunity, this decision becomes more complex. The key to understanding the immunologic choices made during cell death is to examine the mechanisms of tolerance induction by dying cells and then relate them to the mechanisms of immunity. Ideally, immunogenic cell death should be directed toward tumor cells and infected cells, whereas tolerogenic cell death should be associated with preventing unwanted immune responses to self. In this review, we discuss how the decision is made by focusing on the biochemical process of cell death and how its key components can influence both tolerance and immunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-88
Number of pages12
JournalImmunological Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2011


  • Apoptosis
  • Dendritic cell
  • HMGB1
  • Immunity
  • T cell
  • Tolerance


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