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J Immunol. 2002 Feb 15;168(4):1528-32.

Cutting edge: CD4 and CD8 T cells are intrinsically different in their proliferative responses.

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Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


In this study, we compared the proliferation and differentiation of Ag-specific CD4 and CD8 T cells following Listeria infection. Our results show that CD4 T cells responding to infection divide a limited number of times, with progeny exhibiting proliferative arrest in early divisions. Even with increased infectious doses, CD4 T cells display this restricted proliferative pattern and are not driven to undergo extensive clonal expansion. This is in striking contrast to CD8 T cells, which undergo extensive proliferation in response to infection. These differences are also evident when CD4 and CD8 T cells receive uniform anti-CD3 stimulation in vitro. Together, these results suggest that CD4 and CD8 T cells are programmed to undergo limited and extensive proliferation, respectively, to suit their function as regulator and effector cells.

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