Selection of self-reactive T cells in the thymus

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

249 Scopus citations


On the whole, the healthy adaptive immune system is responsive to foreign antigens and tolerant to self. However, many individual lymphocytes have, and even require, substantial self-reactivity for their particular functions in immunity. In this review, we discuss several populations of lymphocytes that are thought to experience agonist stimulation through the T cell receptor during selection: nTreg cells, iNKT cells, nIELs, and nTh17s. We discuss the nature of this self-reactivity, how it compares with conventional T cells, and why it is important for overall immune health. We also outline molecular pathways unique to each lineage and consider possible commonalities to their development and survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-114
Number of pages20
JournalAnnual Review of Immunology
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Intraepithelial lymphocytes
  • Invariant natural killer T cell
  • Natural Th17
  • Regulatory T cell
  • Thymic selection
  • Tolerance


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