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Nat Rev Immunol. 2004 Sep;4(9):737-43.

Will telomere erosion lead to a loss of T-cell memory?

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  • 1Department of Immunology and Molecular Pathology, The Windeyer Building, 46 Cleveland Street, Division of Infection and Immunity, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London W1T 4JF, UK.


Evidence is accumulating that elderly individuals are more susceptible to infection with organisms to which they were previously immune. This indicates that there might be a limit to the persistence of immune memory. This fact is particularly disturbing because the average life expectancy of humans has almost doubled in the past 200 years and is still increasing. We discuss mechanisms that might constrain the persistence of memory T cells and consider whether humans will suffer from memory T-cell exhaustion as life expectancy increases.

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