Evidence that human CD8+CD45RA+CD27- cells are induced by antigen and evolve through extensive rounds of division

Int Immunol. 1999 Jul;11(7):1027-33. doi: 10.1093/intimm/11.7.1027.


We recently showed that circulating human CD8(+) effector cells have a CD45RA+CD27(-) membrane phenotype. In itself this phenotype appeared to pose a paradox: CD45RA, a marker expressed by unprimed cells, combined with absence of CD27, characteristic for chronically stimulated T cells. To investigate whether differentiation towards the CD45RA+CD27(-) phenotype is dependent on antigenic stimulation and involves cellular division, TCR Vbeta usage and telomeric restriction fragment (TRF) length were analyzed within distinct peripheral blood CD8(+) subsets. FACS analysis showed that the TCR Vbeta repertoire of CD8(+)CD45RA+CD27(-) cells differed significantly from that of unprimed CD8(+)CD45RA+CD27(+) cells. Moreover, in two out of six individuals large expansions of particular Vbeta families were observed in the CD8(+)CD45RA+CD27(-) subset. CDR3 spectrotyping and single-strand confirmation analysis revealed that within the CD8(+)CD45RA+CD27(-) population most of the 22 tested Vbeta families were dominated by oligoclonal expansions. The mean TRF length was found to be 2.3+/-1.0 kb shorter in the CD8(+)CD45RA+CD27(-) subset compared with the unprimed CD8(+)CD45RA+CD27(+) population, but did not differ substantially from that of memory type, CD8(+)CD45RA-CD27(+) T cells. These findings indicate that the CD8(+)CD45RA+CD27(-) cytotoxic effector population consists of antigen-induced, clonally expanded cells and confirm that the expression of CD45RA is not a strict marker of antigen non-experienced T cells.

MeSH terms

  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Cell Division / immunology
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / biosynthesis*
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / immunology
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / metabolism
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / immunology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / cytology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • Telomere / immunology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 7 / biosynthesis*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 7 / immunology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 7 / metabolism


  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 7
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens