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Cell Immunol. 1992 Dec;145(2):254-62.

Phenotypic comparison of the three populations of human lymphocytes defined by CD45RO and CD45RA expression.

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Cellular Immunology Laboratory, American Red Cross Blood Services, Los Angeles, California 90006.


Published reports indicate that CD45RO-CD45RAbright T cells are native T cells, CD45RObrightCD45RA- T cells are memory T cells, and that concomitant loss of CD45RA expression and gain of CD45RO expression occurs during transition from naive to memory status. Thus, following in vitro activation of CD45RO- CD45RAbright T cells, a subset of transitional CD45ROdimCD45RAdim T cells is observed before conversion to a CD45RObrightCD45RA- phenotype is completed. Interestingly, all three of these phenotypic subsets are represented in the circulating human lymphocyte pool. We thus used dual-color flow cytometry to phenotypically characterize CD45RObrightCD45RA-, CD45ROdimCD45RAdim, and CD45RO- CD45RAbright lymphocytes. Both the CD45RObrightCD45RA- and CD45ROdimCD45RAdim subsets consisted almost entirely of T cells, whereas the CD45RO-CD45RAbright subset contained T cells plus essentially all of the B and natural killer cells. Additional studies used three-color flow cytometry to assess activation markers on T cells within the three subsets defined by CD45RO/CD45RA expression. CD25 expression increased with conversion from naive to memory status (5% of CD45RO-CD45RAbright, 24% of CD45ROdimCD45RAdim, and 42% of CD45RObrightCD45RA- T cells), whereas CD38 expression decreased during conversion (76, 53, and 27%, respectively). We also assessed the fluorescent intensities of CD11a, CD2, and CD44, shown by others to be increased on memory, compared to naive T cells. Visual inspection of fluorescence cytograms confirmed these findings, and further showed that transitional T cells express these markers at levels indistinguishable from those for naive T cells. These findings suggest that acquisition of CD25 and loss of CD38 occur relatively early in the naive-to-memory transition process, being evident in the transitional cell subset. In contrast, increased expression of CD11a, CD2, and CD44 appear to represent late events, occurring after loss of CD45RA and gain of CD45RO has been completed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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