Differential usage of cellular niches by cytomegalovirus versus EBV- and influenza virus-specific CD8+ T cells

Ester M M van Leeuwen, Jasper J Koning, Ester B M Remmerswaal, Debbie van Baarle, René A W van Lier, Ineke J M ten Berge

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42 Citations (Scopus)


Immunological memory provides long-term protection against reinfection or reactivation of pathogens. Murine memory T cell populations may be compressed following infections with new pathogens. Humans have to retain memory T cells directed against a variety of microbes for many decades. Under these circumstances, the effect of pathogens that mount robust T cell reactivity on the pre-existing memory directed against unrelated microbes is unknown. In this study, we studied peripheral blood memory CD8+ T cells directed against different viruses following primary CMV infection in renal transplant recipients. The entrance of CMV-specific CD8+ T cells expanded the Ag-primed CD8+ T cell compartment rather than competing for space with pre-existing memory T cells specific for persistent or cleared viruses. Neither numbers nor phenotype of EBV- or influenza-specific CD8+ T cells was altered by primary CMV infection. CMV-specific CD8+ T cells accumulated over time, resulting in increased total CD8+ T cell numbers. Additionally, they acquired a highly differentiated cytolytic phenotype that was clearly distinct from EBV- or influenza-reactive T cells. Thus, the human immune system appears to be flexible and is able to expand when encountering CMV. In view of the phenotypic differences between virus-specific T cells, this expansion may take place in cellular niches different from those occupied by EBV- or influenza-specific T cells, thereby preserving immunity to these pathogens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4998-5005
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/cytology
  • Cytomegalovirus/immunology
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections/immunology
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human/immunology
  • Humans
  • Immune System/cytology
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Kidney Transplantation
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Middle Aged
  • Orthomyxoviridae/immunology
  • Viruses/immunology

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