Attrition of T cell memory: selective loss of LCMV epitope-specific memory CD8 T cells following infections with heterologous viruses

Immunity. 1999 Dec;11(6):733-42. doi: 10.1016/s1074-7613(00)80147-8.


Using a variety of techniques, including limiting dilution assays (LDA), intracellular IFNgamma assays, and Db-IgG1 MHC dimer staining to measure viral peptide-specific T cell number and function, we show here that heterologous virus infections quantitatively delete and qualitatively alter the memory pool of T cells specific to a previously encountered virus. We also show that a prior history of a virus infection can alter the hierarchy of the immunodominant peptide response to a second virus and that virus infections selectively reactivate memory T cells with distinct specificities to earlier viruses. These results are consistent with a model for the immune system that accommodates memory T cell populations for multiple pathogens over the course of a lifetime.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Dimerization
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology*
  • H-2 Antigens / immunology
  • Histocompatibility Antigen H-2D
  • Immunodominant Epitopes / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Immunologic Memory / immunology*
  • Interferon-gamma / analysis
  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus / immunology
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Muromegalovirus / immunology
  • Pichinde virus / immunology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / immunology
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Vaccinia virus / immunology
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*


  • Antigens, Viral
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • H-2 Antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigen H-2D
  • Immunodominant Epitopes
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • T cell receptor peptide Vbeta8.1
  • Interferon-gamma