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Immunol Rev. 2002 Aug;186:221-33.

Migration and differentiation of CD8+ T cells.

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The Center for Blood Research and Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School, 200 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Antigen-specific responses by CD8+ T cells require direct cell-cell interactions between T cells and antigen-presenting cells (APC). Initially, naïve T cells must communicate with APC in lymphoid organs. Once stimulated, the resulting effector cells interact with APC in peripheral tissues. To this end, T cells must migrate to discrete sites throughout the body where antigen may be found. Recent progress in the field has revealed that the migratory abilities of T cells are critically dependent on their differentiation state, which is shaped by a multitude of factors. Thus, naïve T cells are normally restricted to recirculate between the blood and secondary lymphoid tissues, although in some autoimmune diseases they may also accumulate in chronically inflamed tissues. When CD8+ T cells encounter antigen and differentiate into short-lived effector CTL, they lose the ability to home to lymph nodes but gain access to peripheral tissues and sites of inflammation. Long-lived memory cells exist in (at least) two flavors: central memory cells that migrate to both lymphoid organs and peripheral sites of inflammation, and effector memory cells that are preferentially localized in non-lymphoid tissues. Our current understanding of the interplay of T cell differentiation and migration has been boosted by the development of T-GFP mice, in which transgenic green fluorescent protein is expressed selectively in naïve and central memory T cells, but not in effector cytotoxic T cells (CTL). This review will focus on recent studies in which T-GFP mice were used to dissect the traffic signals for naïve T cell homing to secondary lymphoid organs, the factors that influence the differentiation of naïve CD8+ T cells into cytotoxic and memory cells, as well as the in vivo trafficking routes of antigen-experienced subsets.

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