Following infection or vaccination, naïve CD8 T cells that receive the appropriate integration of antigenic, co-stimulatory and inflammatory signals undergo a programmed series of biological changes that ultimately results in the generation of memory cells. Memory CD8 T cells, in contrast to naïve cells, more effectively limit or prevent pathogen re-infection because of both qualitative and quantitative changes that occur following their induction. Unlike vaccination strategies aimed at generating antibody production, the ability to generate protective memory CD8 T cells has proven more complicated and problematic. However, recent experimental results have revealed important principles regarding the molecular and genetic basis for memory CD8 T cell formation, as well as identified ways to manipulate their development through vaccination, resulting in potential new avenues to enhance protective immunity.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.