The pathogen recognition theory dictates that, upon viral infection, the innate immune system first detects microbial products and then responds by providing instructions to adaptive CD8 T cells. Here, we show in mice that tissue resident memory CD8 T cells (TRM cells), non-recirculating cells located at common sites of infection, can achieve near-sterilizing immunity against viral infections by reversing this flow of information. Upon antigen resensitization within the mouse female reproductive mucosae, CD8+ TRM cells secrete cytokines that trigger rapid adaptive and innate immune responses, including local humoral responses, maturation of local dendritic cells, and activation of natural killer cells. This provided near-sterilizing immunity against an antigenically unrelated viral infection. Thus, CD8+ TRM cells rapidly trigger an antiviral state by amplifying receptor-derived signals from previously encountered pathogens.
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