Skin-resident memory CD8+ T cells trigger a state of tissue-wide pathogen alert

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Science  03 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6205, pp. 101-105
DOI: 10.1126/science.1254803

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Resident memory T cells sound the alarm

Immunological memory protects against reinfection. Resident memory T cells (TRM) are long-lived and remain in the tissues where they first encountered a pathogen (see the Perspective by Carbone and Gebhardt). Schenkel et al. and Ariotti et al. found that CD8+ TRM cells act like first responders in the female reproductive tissue or the skin of mice upon antigen reencounter. By secreting inflammatory proteins, TRM cells rapidly activated local immune cells to respond, so much so that they protected against infection with an unrelated pathogen. Iijima and Iwasaki found that CD4+ TRM cells protected mice against reinfection with intravaginal herpes simplex virus 2.

Science, this issue p. 98, p. 101, p. 93; see also p. 40


After an infection, pathogen-specific tissue-resident memory T cells (TRM cells) persist in nonlymphoid tissues to provide rapid control upon reinfection, and vaccination strategies that create TRM cell pools at sites of pathogen entry are therefore attractive. However, it is not well understood how TRM cells provide such pathogen protection. Here, we demonstrate that activated TRM cells in mouse skin profoundly alter the local tissue environment by inducing a number of broadly active antiviral and antibacterial genes. This “pathogen alert” allows skin TRM cells to protect against an antigenically unrelated virus. These data describe a mechanism by which tissue-resident memory CD8+ T cells protect previously infected sites that is rapid, amplifies the activation of a small number of cells into an organ-wide response, and has the capacity to control escape variants.

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