T cell memory

Annu Rev Immunol. 1998:16:201-23. doi: 10.1146/annurev.immunol.16.1.201.


Immunological memory can be defined as the faster and stronger response of an animal that follows reexposure to the same antigen. By this definition, it is an operational property of the whole animal or the immune system. Memory cells express a different pattern of cell surface markers, and they respond in several ways that are functionally different from those of naive cells. Murine memory cells are CD44 high and low in the expression of activation markers such as CD25 (IL-2R), whereas human memory cells are CD45RA-, CD45RO+. In contrast to naive cells, memory cells secrete a full range of T cell cytokines and can be polarized to secrete particular restricted patterns of secretion for both CD4 and CD8 T cells. The requirements for the activation of memory cells for proliferation and cytokine production are not quite as strict as those of naive cells, but costimulation in the broad sense is required for optimum responses and for responses to suboptimum antigen concentrations. It would appear that memory cells can persist in the absence of antigenic stimulation and persist as nondividing cells. Reencounter with the same antigen can expand the population to a new, stable, higher level and generate a separate population of CD44 high effectors that may be required for protection, while competition from other antigens can drive it down to a lower stable level. It is unclear how or where memory cells arise, but once generated they have different pathways of recirculation and homing.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory*
  • Phenotype
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*