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J Infect Dis. 2005 May 15;191(10):1710-8. Epub 2005 Apr 11.

Respiratory syncytial virus-specific CD8+ memory T cell responses in elderly persons.

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Department of Pulmonology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, 1100 DE Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



We investigated respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)-specific CD8(+) memory T cell responses in healthy control participants (n=31) and in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (n=9), with respect to frequency, memory phenotype, and proliferative requirements.


The properties of RSV-specific CD8(+) T cells were analyzed by use of RSV tetramers. The proliferative requirements of RSV-specific CD8(+) T cells were analyzed by culture of peripheral-blood mononuclear cells with RSV peptide in combination with distinct cytokines.


RSV-specific CD8(+) memory T cells showed a high level of expression of CD27 and interleukin-7R alpha and a low level of expression of CCR7. In the healthy participants, the frequency of RSV tetramer(+) CD8(+) T cells was significantly lower than the frequency of influenza virus A (FLU) tetramer(+) CD8(+) T cells (P=.0001). In contrast to FLU tetramer(+) CD8(+) T cells, we could detect RSV tetramer(+) CD8(+) T cells in the subgroup of elderly healthy participants (age, > or =55 years) and in the patients with COPD only after in vitro expansion. Expanded RSV-specific T cells produced interferon- gamma and granzyme B.


We provide evidence that a pool of functional RSV-specific CD8(+) memory T cells persists in the peripheral blood of healthy individuals and patients with COPD. Low numbers of RSV-specific memory T cells in the elderly and in patients with COPD may explain the increased susceptibility to RSV infection in these populations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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