Immunologic Research

, Volume 19, Issue 2–3, pp 127–141 | Cite as

Function and regulation of memory CD4 T cells

  • Daniela P. Metz
  • Kim Bottomly


The development of peripheral naive CD4 T cells is dependent on the success of positive selection of immature T cells in the thymus. Only thymocytes that express a T cell receptor (TCR) capable of recognizing self-MHC with low affinity are selected for survival and differentiation into mature naive T cells. Although the TCR of naive T cells has to maintain self-tolerance, it also propagates naive CD4 T cell proliferation on recognition of appropriate foreign peptide associated with MHC class II on antigen-presenting cells (APCs). Naive CD4 T cells that successfully engage foreign peptide undergo further differentiation that leads to the maturation of a select few into the memory T cell pool. Although the requirements that lead to memory T cell development are currently not known, functional changes have been described that are thought to be associated with the greater efficiency with which memory T cells respond to antigen. This article will discuss differences associated with signaling through the TCR of naive and memory CD4 T cells and describe unique control mechanisms imposed on memory CD4 T cells that are likely to have arisen to counterbalance the altered TCR signaling.


Naive Memory CD4 T cells Costimulation CD28 CTLA-4 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniela P. Metz
    • 1
  • Kim Bottomly
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Section of ImmunobiologyYale Medical SchoolNew Haven
  2. 2.Yale Medical SchoolNew HavenUSA

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