Defective generation but normal maintenance of memory T cells in old mice

Eur J Immunol. 2002 Jun;32(6):1567-73. doi: 10.1002/1521-4141(200206)32:6<1567::AID-IMMU1567>3.0.CO;2-P.


The ability to maintain memory after encounter with antigen is one of the central features of the immune system. Immune memory generated during young age can be maintained well into old age. However, we know little about maintenance of immune memory generated during old age. In this study, we compared generation and maintenance of memory CD8 T cells in young (2-3-month-old) and aged (22-24-month-old) mice following acute lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus infection. We found that young mice made a more vigorous primary T cell response and generated higher levels of memory cells than old mice. However, once generated, memory CD8 T cells were maintained at stable levels in both young and old mice for more than 5 months. Interestingly, the generation of a secondary effector response in vivo was again slightly compromised in the old mice. Taken together, these results show that generation of T cell responses is compromised in old age, but maintenance of the pool of memory T cells is not affected by the aging process.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Female
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*


  • Interferon-gamma