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09.03.2019 | Review | Ausgabe 3-4/2019

Medical Microbiology and Immunology 3-4/2019

Fuel and brake of memory T cell inflation

Medical Microbiology and Immunology > Ausgabe 3-4/2019
Suzanne P. M. Welten, Nicolas S. Baumann, Annette Oxenius
Wichtige Hinweise
Edited by: Matthias J. Reddehase.
This article is part of the Special Issue on Immunological Imprinting during Chronic Viral Infection.

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Memory T cell inflation is a process in which a large number of effector memory T cells accumulates in peripheral tissues. This phenomenon is observed upon certain low level persistent virus infections, but it is most commonly described upon infection with the β-herpesvirus Cytomegalovirus. Due to the induction of this large pool of functional effector CD8 T cells in peripheral tissues, the interest in using CMV-based vaccine vectors for vaccination purposes is rising. However, the exact mechanisms of memory T cell inflation are not yet fully understood. It is clear that repetitive exposure to antigen is a key determinant for memory inflation, and therefore the viral inoculum dose and the subsequent number of viral reactivation events strongly impact on the magnitude of the inflationary T cell pool. In addition, the number of CMV-specific CD8 T cells that is able to sense these reactivation events affects the size of the inflationary T cell pool. In the following, we will discuss factors that either promote or limit T cell inflation from both the virus and host perspective. These factors mostly operate by influencing the amount of available antigen or by affecting the T cell pool that is able to respond to the antigen. Furthermore, we will discuss the recent use of CMV-based vaccines in pre-clinical experimental settings, where these vectors have shown promising results by inducing prolonged effector memory T cell responses to foreign-introduced epitopes and thereby provided protection from subsequent virus or tumour challenges.

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