Memory T cells are a fundamental component of immunological memory, providing rapid and potent host protection against secondary challenges. As such, memory T cells are key targets in the design of vaccination strategies and cancer immunotherapies, making it critical to understand the factors and mechanisms that regulate their biology. Diet is an environmental feature that impacts virtually all aspects of host physiology. However, the influence of specific dietary regiments and nutritional components on the immune system is only just starting to be uncovered. This article will review literature regarding the impact of diet and nutrition on memory T cell development, maintenance and function. It was recently shown that caloric restriction without undernutrition enhances memory T cell function, while diets high in fiber are also beneficial. However, memory T cell responses are dysfunctional in extreme nutritional states, such as undernutrition and diet-induced obesity. Therefore, diet and host nutritional status are major regulators of memory T cell biology and host fitness. To define the dietary balance required to promote optimal memory T cell responses could allow for the implementation of rational diet-based therapies that prevent or treat disease. Furthermore, that certain dietary regiments can enhance memory T cell function indicates the possibility of harnessing the underlying mechanisms in the design of novel vaccination strategies and cancer immunotherapies.
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