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Immunity. 2013 Jan 24;38(1):187-97. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2012.09.020. Epub 2012 Dec 20.

Distribution and compartmentalization of human circulating and tissue-resident memory T cell subsets.

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Columbia Center for Translational Immunology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Knowledge of human T cells derives chiefly from studies of peripheral blood, whereas their distribution and function in tissues remains largely unknown. Here, we present a unique analysis of human T cells in lymphoid and mucosal tissues obtained from individual organ donors, revealing tissue-intrinsic compartmentalization of naive, effector, and memory subsets conserved between diverse individuals. Effector memory CD4(+) T cells producing IL-2 predominated in mucosal tissues and accumulated as central memory subsets in lymphoid tissue, whereas CD8(+) T cells were maintained as naive subsets in lymphoid tissues and IFN-γ-producing effector memory CD8(+) T cells in mucosal sites. The T cell activation marker CD69 was constitutively expressed by memory T cells in all tissues, distinguishing them from circulating subsets, with mucosal memory T cells exhibiting additional distinct phenotypic and functional properties. Our results provide an assessment of human T cell compartmentalization as a new baseline for understanding human adaptive immunity.

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