Stemness of T cells and the hematopoietic stem cells: Fate, memory, niche, cytokines

Francesca B. Aiello, Laura Graciotti, Antonio D. Procopio, Jonathan R. Keller, Scott K. Durum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stem cells are able to generate both cells that differentiate and cells that remain undifferentiated but potentially have the same developmental program. The prolonged duration of the protective immune memory for infectious diseases such as polio, small pox, and measles, suggested that memory T cells may have stem cell properties. Understanding the molecular basis for the life-long persistence of memory T cells may be useful to project targeted therapies for immune deficiencies and infectious diseases and to formulate vaccines. In the last decade evidence from different laboratories shows that memory T cells may share self-renewal pathways with bone marrow hematopoietic stem cells. In stem cells the intrinsic self-renewal activity, which depends on gene expression, is known to be modulated by extrinsic signals from the environment that may be tissue specific. These extrinsic signals for stemness of memory T cells include cytokines such as IL-7 and IL-15 and there are other cytokine signals for maintaining the cytokine signature (TH1, TH2, etc.) of memory T cells. Intrinsic and extrinsic pathways that might be common to bone marrow hematopoietic stem cells and memory T lymphocytes are discussed and related to self-renewal functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-501
Number of pages17
JournalCytokine and Growth Factor Reviews
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Hematopoietic stem cells
  • Self renewal
  • Stem cell markers
  • T memory cells
  • T memory stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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