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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in The Journal of immunology

2015 Jan 16. pii: 1402757

The published version is available at PMID:25595792 . Copyright © The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.


Reconstitution of CMV-specific immunity after transplant remains a primary clinical objective to prevent CMV disease, and adoptive immunotherapy of CMV-specific T cells can be an effective therapeutic approach. Because of viral persistence, most CMV-specific CD8(+) T cells become terminally differentiated effector phenotype CD8(+) T cells (TEFF). A minor subset retains a memory-like phenotype (memory phenotype CD8(+) T cells [TM]), but it is unknown whether these cells retain memory function or persist over time. Interestingly, recent studies suggest that CMV-specific CD8(+) T cells with different phenotypes have different abilities to reconstitute sustained immunity after transfer. The immunology of human CMV infections is reflected in the murine CMV (MCMV) model. We found that human CMV- and MCMV-specific T cells displayed shared genetic programs, validating the MCMV model for studies of CMV-specific T cells in vivo. The MCMV-specific TM population was stable over time and retained a proliferative capacity that was vastly superior to TEFF. Strikingly, after transfer, TM established sustained and diverse T cell populations even after multiple challenges. Although both TEFF and TM could protect Rag(-/-) mice, only TM persisted after transfer into immune replete, latently infected recipients and responded if recipient immunity was lost. Interestingly, transferred TM did not expand until recipient immunity was lost, supporting that competition limits the Ag stimulation of TM. Ultimately, these data show that CMV-specific TM retain memory function during MCMV infection and can re-establish CMV immunity when necessary. Thus, TM may be a critical component for consistent, long-term adoptive immunotherapy success.

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