Inverse correlation between IL-7 receptor expression and CD8 T cell exhaustion during persistent antigen stimulation

Eur J Immunol. 2005 Mar;35(3):738-45. doi: 10.1002/eji.200425828.


Persistence is a hallmark of infection by viruses such as HIV, hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus and LCMV. In the case of LCMV, persistence may often be associated with exhaustion of CD8(+) T cells. We demonstrate here that persistent antigen suppressed IL-7Ralpha expression and this correlated with T cell exhaustion and reduced expression of the anti-apoptotic molecule B cell leukemia/lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2). In contrast, exposure to short-lived antigen only temporarily suppressed IL-7Ralpha expression, failed to induce T cell exhaustion, and primed T cells. Persistent antigen also suppressed IL-7Ralpha expression on primed T cells and this correlated with exhaustion of a previously stable primed T cell population. These findings suggest that antigen longevity regulates T cell fate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology*
  • Apoptosis / immunology
  • Arenaviridae Infections / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Interleukin-7 / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-7 / immunology
  • Time Factors


  • Antigens, Viral
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Receptors, Interleukin-7
  • interleukin-7 receptor, alpha chain