T-cell exhaustion



With the recent reports of COVID-19 causing T-cell exhaustion, and the comparison to AIDS causing T-cell exhaustion can someone explain what this is and what long term affects it will have on a person/population?

EDIT: [LINK](https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.02.18.20024364v1) talking about t-cell exhaustion and covid-19

In: Biology

The immune system can get tired too. At a certain point, the immune system just gives up and doesn’t fight the infection anymore. This is seen in other disease states like cancer and sepsis.

Tbh the ELI5 answer to this is that it’s basically what its name suggests: it’s where your T-cells become exhausted and cease to work.

I suppose the first thing to address though is what a T-cell is, and the answer is that it’s a type of white blood cell thats role lies in dealing with mutant cells – i.e. cancer cells and those infected with viruses.

In terms of what causes T-cell exhaustion, it’s a complex and not fully understood phenomenon but essentially if a viral infection is chronic and persistent enough then the T-cell’s receptors are constantly being bombarded both by viral antigens (i.e. parts of the virus to which the T-cell is programmed to respond to) *and* by cytokines (hormones your body produces to direct an immune response). In the end it cannot respond any more to the “on” signals, and at the same time the physical state of the body is likely to be weak (low oxygen levels, poor nutrition, deranged acid levels etc.) which further impairs T-cell function. A combination of the two can start to lead to T-cell death or dysfunction where they either stop working altogether or start responding to the wrong things, so in response the body produces “off” signals to limit T-cell activity to prevent an auto-immune reaction. The T-cells cannot respond any more to the positive signal but do respond to the negative one, which in combination with already impaired function serves to further dampen their activity.

This combination is known as T-cell exhaustion and leads to impaired immune function, cell death due to overstimulation, poor control of the infection/tumour and progressive loss of other T-cell functions.

Can someone ELI5 OP’s question?

Do they give Neupogen shots for T-cell exhaustion?

What would this mean to someone who has T-cell leukemia?

Can you share any source on the relationship between t-cell exhaustion and coronavirus? I googled and nothing came up…

“T-cells” are the parts of your body that fight sickness. They keep you healthy. But sometimes they get tired.