Homeostatic regulation of T lymphocytes is a central mechanism by which the immune system ensures its diversity and functionality. T cell deficiency triggers a proliferative response of T cells that remain within such conditions or that are adoptively transferred into such environments (which is often referred to as homeostatic proliferation or endogenous proliferation). The proliferation is often associated with a differentiation process that generates memory T cells. The resulting memory T cells are thought to play a critical role in the regulation of peripheral homeostasis as well as in the protection against invading pathogens.
There is substantial evidence suggesting that lymphopenia induced immune activation may result in autoimmunity, multiorgan immunopathology, as well as rejection of solid organ transplants. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms regulating T cell proliferation in lymphopenic conditions has fundamental biological importance. Our study aims at defining the mechanisms by which T cell proliferation/differentiation processes are induced and regulated.