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Nat Immunol. 2003 Mar;4(3):225-34. Epub 2003 Feb 3.

Lineage relationship and protective immunity of memory CD8 T cell subsets.

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Emory Vaccine Center and Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Memory CD8 T cells can be divided into two subsets, central (T(CM)) and effector (T(EM)), but their lineage relationships and their ability to persist and confer protective immunity are not well understood. Our results show that T(CM) have a greater capacity than T(EM) to persist in vivo and are more efficient in mediating protective immunity because of their increased proliferative potential. We also demonstrate that, following antigen clearance, T(EM) convert to T(CM) and that the duration of this differentiation is programmed within the first week after immunization. We propose that T(CM) and T(EM) do not necessarily represent distinct subsets, but are part of a continuum in a linear naive --> effector --> T(EM) --> T(CM) differentiation pathway.

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