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J Immunol. 1991 Apr 1;146(7):2088-94.

Human CD8+ T lymphocytes can be divided into CD45RA+ and CD45RO+ cells with different requirements for activation and differentiation.

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Central Laboratory of the Netherlands Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service, Amsterdam.


The functional distinction between CD45RA+ and CD45RO+ cells within the human CD4+ T cell subset is well established. This study was undertaken to investigate whether a similar division can be made within the CD8+ T cell population. A quantitative comparison was made of the requirements for activation and differentiation of CD8+CD45RA+ and CD8+CD45RO+ cells. Stimulation of T lymphocytes with anti-CD3 mAb immobilized at high-density induced strong proliferation and CTL activity in both CD45RA+ and CD45RO+ cells. Suboptimal TCR/CD3 triggering, in contrast, induced substantially higher levels of proliferation and CTL activity in CD8+CD45RO+ cells compared with their CD45RA+ counterparts. Lymphokine secretion (i.e., Il-2 and TNF-alpha) was under any condition more readily induced in CD8+CD45RO+ cells. Markedly, proliferation of both CD8+CD45RA+ and CD8+CD45RO+ T cells initiated by anti-CD3 mAb immobilized at high densities was not inhibited by addition of anti-CD25 mAb, in contrast to proliferation induced by suboptimal anti-CD3 mAb concentrations. These findings show that a functional division between CD45RA+ and CD45RO+ T cells with distinct requirements for activation and differentiation may also be made in the CD8+ subset.

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