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*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


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 - 15 Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes

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