Oligoclonality of CD8+ T cells in health and disease: aging, infection, or immune regulation?

Hum Immunol. 1996 Jun-Jul;48(1-2):68-76. doi: 10.1016/0198-8859(96)00077-8.


Oligoclonality of the CD8+ T cell subset is a common and characteristic feature of the normal human peripheral T cell repertoire. These clonally expanded populations are predominantly found in a CD57+ or CD28- CD8+ T cell subset. While CD8 oligoclonality is somewhat more common in the older age group, it is also very prevalent in young to middle-aged adults. Recent experiments have also demonstrated that the clonally expanded populations may actually occur in two distinct subpopulations of CD8+ CD28- cells, distinguished by the expression of the CD57 surface marker. A major difficulty with studies involving CD8+ CD28- CD57+ T cells is their relative lack of proliferative capacity. We have recently investigated the possibility that this phenotype may be due to a state of "replicative senescence" in some cases. In this regard, we have demonstrated that the telomere lengths of CD8+ CD28- T cells are generally shorter than that of their CD8+ CD28+ counterparts, consistent with a distinct replicative history for the CD8+ CD28- population. Additional studies of the normal biology of clonally expanded CD8+ T cells are likely to yield important insights into immune function in health and disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics
  • Aging / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / chemistry*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Clone Cells / chemistry*
  • Clone Cells / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Infections / genetics
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics*


  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell