Differences in maintenance of CD8+ and CD4+ bacteria-specific effector-memory T cell populations

Eur J Immunol. 2003 Oct;33(10):2875-85. doi: 10.1002/eji.200324224.


Our knowledge about the kinetics and dynamics of complex pathogen-specific CD8(+) T cell responses and the in vivo development of CD8(+) memory T cells has increased substantially over the past years; in comparison, relatively little is known about the CD4(+) T cell compartment. We monitored and directly compared the phenotypical changes of pathogen (Listeria monocytogenes)-specific CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cell responses under conditions leading to effective and long-lasting protective immunity. We found that the general kinetics of bacteria-specific CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cells during the effector and post-effector phases are synchronized. However, later during the memory phase, CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cell populations differ substantially. Whereas CD8(+) memory T cell populations with immediate effector function are readily detectable in lymphoid and non-lymphoid tissues and remain remarkably stable in size, antigen-specific CD4(+) effector-memory T cells decline continuously in frequency over time. These findings have important implications for the better understanding of the in vivo development of protective immunity towards intracellular pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Toxins*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / immunology
  • Hemolysin Proteins
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Listeria monocytogenes / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis


  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Hemolysin Proteins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interferon-gamma
  • hlyA protein, Listeria monocytogenes