Human memory T cells: generation, compartmentalization and homeostasis

Nat Rev Immunol. 2014 Jan;14(1):24-35. doi: 10.1038/nri3567. Epub 2013 Dec 13.


Memory T cells constitute the most abundant lymphocyte population in the body for the majority of a person's lifetime; however, our understanding of memory T cell generation, function and maintenance mainly derives from mouse studies, which cannot recapitulate the exposure to multiple pathogens that occurs over many decades in humans. In this Review, we discuss studies focused on human memory T cells that reveal key properties of these cells, including subset heterogeneity and diverse tissue residence in multiple mucosal and lymphoid tissue sites. We also review how the function and the adaptability of human memory T cells depend on spatial and temporal compartmentalization.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Animals
  • Antigens
  • Cross Reactions
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Mucosal
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Lymphoid Tissue / immunology
  • Mice
  • Microbiota / immunology
  • Models, Immunological
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • Vaccines / immunology


  • Antigens
  • Vaccines