Tissue-resident memory T cells: local specialists in immune defence

Nat Rev Immunol. 2016 Feb;16(2):79-89. doi: 10.1038/nri.2015.3. Epub 2015 Dec 21.


T cells have crucial roles in protection against infection and cancer. Although the trafficking of memory T cells around the body is integral to their capacity to provide immune protection, studies have shown that specialization of some memory T cells into unique tissue-resident subsets gives the host enhanced regional immunity. In recent years, there has been considerable progress in our understanding of tissue-resident T cell development and function, revealing mechanisms for enhanced protective immunity that have the potential to influence rational vaccine design. This Review discusses the major advances and the emerging concepts in this field, summarizes what is known about the differentiation and the protective functions of tissue-resident memory T cells in different tissues in the body and highlights key unanswered questions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*