Antigen experience shapes phenotype and function of memory Th1 cells

PLoS One. 2013 Jun 7;8(6):e65234. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065234. Print 2013.


Primary and secondary (boosted) memory CD8 T cells exhibit differences in gene expression, phenotype and function. The impact of repeated antigen stimulations on memory CD4 T cells is largely unknown. To address this issue, we utilized LCMV and Listeria monocytogenes infection of mice to characterize primary and secondary antigen (Ag)-specific Th1 CD4 T cell responses. Ag-specific primary memory CD4 T cells display a CD62L(lo)CCR7(hi) CD27(hi) CD127(hi) phenotype and are polyfunctional (most produce IFNγ, TNFα and IL-2). Following homologous prime-boost immunization we observed pathogen-specific differences in the rate of CD62L and CCR7 upregulation on memory CD4 T cells as well as in IL-2+IFNγco-production by secondary effectors. Phenotypic and functional plasticity of memory Th1 cells was observed following heterologous prime-boost immunization, wherein secondary memory CD4 T cells acquired phenotypic and functional characteristics dictated by the boosting agent rather than the primary immunizing agent. Our data also demonstrate that secondary memory Th1 cells accelerated neutralizing Ab formation in response to LCMV infection, suggesting enhanced capacity of this population to provide quality help for antibody production. Collectively these data have important implications for prime-boost vaccination strategies that seek to enhance protective immune responses mediated by Th1 CD4 T cell responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology
  • Antigens / immunology*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Homeostasis / immunology
  • Immunization, Secondary
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Interleukin-2 / biosynthesis
  • Kinetics
  • Listeria monocytogenes / immunology
  • Listeriosis / immunology
  • Listeriosis / pathology
  • Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis / immunology
  • Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis / pathology
  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neutralization Tests
  • Phenotype
  • Th1 Cells / immunology*
  • Th1 Cells / pathology*


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antigens
  • Biomarkers
  • Interleukin-2