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      Early precursor T cells establish and propagate T cell exhaustion in chronic infection

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          Reduction and Functional Exhaustion of T Cells in Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

          Background: The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has posed great threat to human health. T cells play a critical role in antiviral immunity but their numbers and functional state in COVID-19 patients remain largely unclear. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the counts of T cells and serum cytokine concentration from data of 522 patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and 40 healthy controls. In addition, the expression of T cell exhaustion markers were measured in 14 COVID-19 cases. Results: The number of total T cells, CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were dramatically reduced in COVID-19 patients, especially in patients requiring Intensive Care Unit (ICU) care. Counts of total T cells, CD8+ T cells or CD4+ T cells lower than 800, 300, or 400/μL, respectively, were negatively correlated with patient survival. T cell numbers were negatively correlated to serum IL-6, IL-10, and TNF-α concentration, with patients in the disease resolution period showing reduced IL-6, IL-10, and TNF-α concentrations and restored T cell counts. T cells from COVID-19 patients had significantly higher levels of the exhausted marker PD-1. Increasing PD-1 and Tim-3 expression on T cells was seen as patients progressed from prodromal to overtly symptomatic stages. Conclusions: T cell counts are reduced significantly in COVID-19 patients, and the surviving T cells appear functionally exhausted. Non-ICU patients with total T cells counts lower than 800/μL may still require urgent intervention, even in the immediate absence of more severe symptoms due to a high risk for further deterioration in condition.
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            CD8 T Cell Exhaustion During Chronic Viral Infection and Cancer

            Exhausted CD8 T (Tex) cells are a distinct cell lineage that arise during chronic infections and cancers in animal models and humans. Tex cells are characterized by progressive loss of effector functions, high and sustained inhibitory receptor expression, metabolic dysregulation, poor memory recall and homeostatic self-renewal, and distinct transcriptional and epigenetic programs. The ability to reinvigorate Tex cells through inhibitory receptor blockade, such as αPD-1, highlights the therapeutic potential of targeting this population. Emerging insights into the mechanisms of exhaustion are informing immunotherapies for cancer and chronic infections. However, like other immune cells, Tex cells are heterogeneous and include progenitor and terminal subsets with unique characteristics and responses to checkpoint blockade. Here, we review our current understanding of Tex cell biology, including the developmental paths, transcriptional and epigenetic features, and cell intrinsic and extrinsic factors contributing to exhaustion and how this knowledge may inform therapeutic targeting of Tex cells in chronic infections, autoimmunity, and cancer.
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              Epigenetic stability of exhausted T cells limits durability of reinvigoration by PD-1 blockade.

              Blocking Programmed Death-1 (PD-1) can reinvigorate exhausted CD8 T cells (TEX) and improve control of chronic infections and cancer. However, whether blocking PD-1 can reprogram TEX into durable memory T cells (TMEM) is unclear. We found that reinvigoration of TEX in mice by PD-L1 blockade caused minimal memory development. After blockade, reinvigorated TEX became reexhausted if antigen concentration remained high and failed to become TMEM upon antigen clearance. TEX acquired an epigenetic profile distinct from that of effector T cells (TEFF) and TMEM cells that was minimally remodeled after PD-L1 blockade. This finding suggests that TEX are a distinct lineage of CD8 T cells. Nevertheless, PD-1 pathway blockade resulted in transcriptional rewiring and reengagement of effector circuitry in the TEX epigenetic landscape. These data indicate that epigenetic fate inflexibility may limit current immunotherapies.
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                Author and article information

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                Journal
                Nature Immunology
                Nat Immunol
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1529-2908
                1529-2916
                August 24 2020
                Article
                10.1038/s41590-020-0760-z
                32839610
                24afeb8d-4c1f-419f-8d11-8e5015f498ed
                © 2020

                Free to read

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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