Cytotoxic T-cell memory without antigen

Nature. 1994 Jun 23;369(6482):648-52. doi: 10.1038/369648a0.


Memory is a hallmark of the immune system and ever since its recognition there has been considerable interest in understanding how immunity is maintained. The current model is that long-term memory is dependent on persistent antigenic stimulation. We report here results that challenge this view and provide evidence that antigen is not essential for the maintenance of CD8+ T-cell memory. We show that memory CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes persist indefinitely in the absence of priming antigen, retain the memory phenotype (CD44hi), and provide protection against virus challenge. These findings suggest a re-evaluation of our current thinking on mechanisms involved in maintaining immunity and have implications towards designing effective vaccination strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology
  • CD8 Antigens / immunology
  • Carrier Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival
  • Hyaluronan Receptors
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive
  • Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis / immunology
  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus / immunology
  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus / isolation & purification
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, SCID
  • Models, Biological
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Lymphocyte Homing / biosynthesis
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / transplantation


  • Antigens, Viral
  • CD8 Antigens
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Hyaluronan Receptors
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Lymphocyte Homing