Defining memory CD8 T cell

Matthew D. Martin, Vladimir P. Badovinac

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

267 Scopus citations


CD8 T cells comprising the memory pool display considerable heterogeneity, with individual cells differing in phenotype and function. This review will focus on our current understanding of heterogeneity within the antigen-specific memory CD8 T cell compartment and classifications of memory CD8 T cell subsets with defined and discrete functionalities. Recent data suggest that phenotype and/or function of numerically stable circulatory memory CD8 T cells are defined by the age of memory CD8 T cell (or time after initial antigen-encounter). In addition, history of antigen stimulations has a profound effect on memory CD8 T cell populations, suggesting that repeated infections (or vaccination) have the capacity to further shape the memory CD8 T cell pool. Finally, genetic background of hosts and history of exposure to diverse microorganisms likely contribute to the observed heterogeneity in the memory CD8 T cell compartment. Extending our tool box and exploring alternative mouse models (i.e., "dirty" and/or outbred mice) to encompass and better model diversity observed in humans will remain an important goal for the near future that will likely shed new light into the mechanisms that govern biology of memory CD8 T cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2692
JournalFrontiers in immunology
Issue numberNOV
StatePublished - Nov 20 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health Grants: GM113961 (VB), AI114543 (VB), and 4T32AI0007260-30 (MM).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2007 - 2018 Frontiers Media S.A.


  • CD8 T cell
  • age of memory
  • heterogeneity
  • history of Ag enounters
  • memory
  • outbred mice
  • protection
  • subsets


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