Protective capacity of memory CD8+ T cells is dictated by antigen exposure history and nature of the infection

Immunity. 2011 May 27;34(5):781-93. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2011.03.020. Epub 2011 May 5.


Infection or vaccination confers heightened resistance to pathogen rechallenge because of quantitative and qualitative differences between naive and primary memory T cells. Herein, we show that secondary (boosted) memory CD8+ T cells were better than primary memory CD8+ T cells in controlling some, but not all acute infections with diverse pathogens. However, secondary memory CD8+ T cells were less efficient than an equal number of primary memory cells at preventing chronic LCMV infection and are more susceptible to functional exhaustion. Importantly, localization of memory CD8+ T cells within lymph nodes, which is reduced by antigen restimulation, was critical for both viral control in lymph nodes and for the sustained CD8+ T cell response required to prevent chronic LCMV infection. Thus, repeated antigen stimulation shapes memory CD8+ T cell populations to either enhance or decrease per cell protective immunity in a pathogen-specific manner, a concept of importance in vaccine design against specific diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Viral / immunology*
  • Arenaviridae Infections / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • L-Selectin / immunology
  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus / immunology
  • Phenotype


  • Antigens, Viral
  • L-Selectin