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Stem Cells. 1995 May;13(3):242-9.

Life span of naive and memory T cells.

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Department of Immunology, Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


The life span of mature T cells is reviewed. Peripheral T lymphocytes are a heterogeneous population and comprise a mixture of naive, effector and memory cells. The recirculating pool of mature T cells is formed during young life through gradual release of naive T cells from the thymus. In adults, the pool of mature T cells is relatively self-sufficient, and input of new T cells from the thymus declines to low levels. Studies on T cell turnover indicate that most peripheral T cells can remain in a resting state for long periods (months in rodents and years in humans). Examination of the phenotype of dividing versus nondividing cells suggests that typical naive T cells are long-lived resting cells whereas the majority of effector and memory T cells have a much more rapid turnover. However, some memory T cells appear to divide very infrequently and eventually return to a resting state. The factors controlling the generation and maintenance of memory T cells are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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