Migration and differentiation of CD8+ T cells

Immunol Rev. 2002 Aug;186:221-33. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-065x.2002.18618.x.


Antigen-specific responses by CD8+ T cells require direct cell-cell interactions between T cells and antigen-presenting cells (APC). Initially, naïve T cells must communicate with APC in lymphoid organs. Once stimulated, the resulting effector cells interact with APC in peripheral tissues. To this end, T cells must migrate to discrete sites throughout the body where antigen may be found. Recent progress in the field has revealed that the migratory abilities of T cells are critically dependent on their differentiation state, which is shaped by a multitude of factors. Thus, naïve T cells are normally restricted to recirculate between the blood and secondary lymphoid tissues, although in some autoimmune diseases they may also accumulate in chronically inflamed tissues. When CD8+ T cells encounter antigen and differentiate into short-lived effector CTL, they lose the ability to home to lymph nodes but gain access to peripheral tissues and sites of inflammation. Long-lived memory cells exist in (at least) two flavors: central memory cells that migrate to both lymphoid organs and peripheral sites of inflammation, and effector memory cells that are preferentially localized in non-lymphoid tissues. Our current understanding of the interplay of T cell differentiation and migration has been boosted by the development of T-GFP mice, in which transgenic green fluorescent protein is expressed selectively in naïve and central memory T cells, but not in effector cytotoxic T cells (CTL). This review will focus on recent studies in which T-GFP mice were used to dissect the traffic signals for naïve T cell homing to secondary lymphoid organs, the factors that influence the differentiation of naïve CD8+ T cells into cytotoxic and memory cells, as well as the in vivo trafficking routes of antigen-experienced subsets.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology*
  • Cell Movement / immunology*
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Peyer's Patches / cytology
  • Peyer's Patches / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*