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J Immunol. 2003 Oct 15;171(8):4254-62.

Deficient anti-listerial immunity in the absence of perforin can be restored by increasing memory CD8+ T cell numbers.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


Compared with wild-type (WT) mice, Listeria monocytogenes (LM)-vaccinated perforin-deficient (PKO) mice have elevated levels of CD8(+) T cell memory, but exhibit reduced levels of protection against virulent LM. In this study, Ag-specific CD8(+) T cells from LM-vaccinated WT and PKO mice were used in adoptive transfer assays to determine the contribution of perforin-dependent cytolysis in protective immunity to LM. Perforin deficiency resulted in an approximately 5-fold reduction in the per-cell protective capacity of Ag-specific memory CD8(+) T cells that was not caused by differences in memory cell quality as measured by CD62L/CD27 expression, TCR repertoire use, functional avidity, differences in expansion of Ag-specific cells upon infection, or maintenance of memory levels over time. However, perforin-deficient CD8(+) T cells exhibited reduced in vivo cytotoxic function compared to WT CD8(+) T cells. Consistent with the existence of perforin-independent effector pathways, double-vaccinated PKO mice were as resistant to challenge with LM as single-vaccinated WT mice. Thus, increasing the number of memory CD8(+) T cells can overcome diminished per-cell protective immunity in the absence of perforin.

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