Memory T cells constitute a subset of the human CD8+ CD45RA+ pool with distinct phenotypic and migratory characteristics

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Using HLA class I-viral epitope tetramers to monitor herpes virus-specific CD8(+) T cell responses in humans, we have shown that a significant fraction of responding cells revert from a CD45RO(+) to a CD45RA(+) state after priming. All tetramer-binding CD45RA(+) cells, regardless of epitope specificity, expressed a phenotype LFA-1(high)CCR7(low) that was stable for at least 10 years in infectious mononucleosis patients and indefinitely in asymptomatic carriers. CD8(+)CD45RA(+)LFA-1high cells were not present in cord blood but in adults account for up to 50% of CD8(+)CD45RA(+) cells. These CD45RA(+)LFA-1(high) cells have significantly shorter telomeres than CD45RA(+)LFA-l(low) cells, suggesting that the latter represent a naive population, while the former are memory cells. CD45RA+ memory cells are a stable population of noncycling cells, but on stimulation they are potent producers of IFN-gamma, while naive CD8(+) cells produce only IL-2. The chemokine receptor profile and migratory potential of CD45RA(+) memory cells is very similar to CD45RO(+) cells but different to naive CD8 cells. In accord with this, CD45RA(+) memory cells were significantly underrepresented in lymph nodes, but account for virtually all CD8(+)CD45RA(+) T cells in peripheral tissues of the same individuals.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-220
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2001