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J Exp Med. 2003 Dec 15;198(12):1807-15.

IL-7 promotes the transition of CD4 effectors to persistent memory cells.

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Trudeau Institute, Inc, Saranac Lake, NY 12983, USA.


After transfer to adoptive hosts, in vitro-generated CD4 effectors can become long-lived memory cells, but the factors regulating this transition are unknown. We find that low doses of interleukin (IL) 7 enhance survival of effectors in vitro without driving their division. When in vitro-generated effectors are transferred to normal intact adoptive hosts, they survive and rapidly become small resting cells with a memory phenotype. CD4 effectors generated from wild-type versus IL-7 receptor-/- mice were transferred to adoptive hosts, including intact mice and those deficient in IL-7. In each case, the response to IL-7 was critical for good recovery of donor cells after 5-7 d. Recovery was also IL-7-dependent in Class II hosts where division was minimal. Blocking antibodies to IL-7 dramatically decreased short-term recovery of transferred effectors in vivo without affecting their division. These data indicate that IL-7 plays a critical role in promoting memory CD4 T cell generation by providing survival signals, which allow effectors to successfully become resting memory cells.

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