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Nat Med. 2011 Sep 18;17(10):1290-7. doi: 10.1038/nm.2446.

A human memory T cell subset with stem cell-like properties.

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  • 1Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, US National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


Immunological memory is thought to depend on a stem cell-like, self-renewing population of lymphocytes capable of differentiating into effector cells in response to antigen re-exposure. Here we describe a long-lived human memory T cell population that has an enhanced capacity for self-renewal and a multipotent ability to derive central memory, effector memory and effector T cells. These cells, specific to multiple viral and self-tumor antigens, were found within a CD45RO(-), CCR7(+), CD45RA(+), CD62L(+), CD27(+), CD28(+) and IL-7Rα(+) T cell compartment characteristic of naive T cells. However, they expressed large amounts of CD95, IL-2Rβ, CXCR3, and LFA-1, and showed numerous functional attributes distinctive of memory cells. Compared with known memory populations, these lymphocytes had increased proliferative capacity and more efficiently reconstituted immunodeficient hosts, and they mediated superior antitumor responses in a humanized mouse model. The identification of a human stem cell-like memory T cell population is of direct relevance to the design of vaccines and T cell therapies.

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