, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 13-24

High-avidity CD8+ T cells

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Abstract

The primary goal of vaccination is the establishment of protective immunity. Thus there has been significant effort put toward the identification of attributes of the immune response that are associated with optimal protection. Although the number of virus-specific cells elicited is unquestionably important, recent studies have identified an additional parameter, functional avidity, as critical in determining the efficiency of viral clearance. T-cell avidity is a measure of the sensitivity of a cell to peptide antigen. High-avidity cells are those that can recognize antigen-presenting cells (APC) bearing very low levels of peptide antigen, whereas low-avidity cells require much higher numbers of peptide major histocompatibility complex (MHC) complexes in order to become activated or exert effector function. We are only now beginning to gain insights into the molecular control of avidity and the signals required for the optimal activation, expansion, and retention of high-avidity cells in vivo. This review summarizes the current knowledge regarding CD8+ T-cell avidity and explores some of the important issues that are, as of yet, unresolved.