T cells are activated by antigen and co-stimulatory receptor signaling and undergo robust proliferation and differentiation into effector cells with protective function. Such quantitatively and qualitatively amplified T cell responses are effective in controlling acute infection and are followed by contraction of the effector population and the formation of resting memory T cells for enhanced protection against previously experienced antigens. However, in the face of persistent antigen during chronic viral infection, in autoimmunity, or in the tumor microenvironment, T cells exhibit distinct responses relative to those in acute insult in several aspects, including reduced clonal expansion and impaired effector function associated with inhibitory receptor expression, a state known as exhaustion. Nevertheless, their responses to chronic infection and tumors are sustained through the establishment of hierarchical heterogeneity, which preserves the duration of the response by generating newly differentiated effector cells. In this review, we highlight recent findings on distinct dynamics of T cell responses under “exhausting” conditions and the roles of the transcription factors that support attenuated yet long-lasting T cell responses as well as the establishment of dysfunctional states.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-77
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2023


  • T cell exhaustion
  • T cell memory
  • immune check point
  • progenitors


Dive into the research topics of 'Population dynamics and gene regulation of T cells in response to chronic antigen stimulation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this