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The role of interleukin-2 in memory CD8 cell differentiation.

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  • Animals
  • Cd8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/Immunology
  • Cd8-Positive T-Lymphocytes/Physiology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory/Immunology
  • Interleukin-2/Immunology
  • Lymphopoiesis
  • Mice
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets/Immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets/Physiology


The current literature on the role of interleukin (IL)-2 in memory CD8+ T-cell differentiation indicates a significant contribution of IL-2 during primary and also secondary expansion of CD8+ T cells. IL-2 seems to be responsible for optimal expansion and generation of effector functions following primary antigenic challenge. As the magnitude of T-cell expansion determines the numbers of memory CD8+ T cells surviving after pathogen elimination, these event influence memory cell generation. Moreover, during the contraction phase of an immune respons where most antigen-specific CD8+ T cells disappear by apoptosis, IL-2 signals are able to rescu CD8+ T cells from cell death and provide a durable increase in memory CD8+ T-cell counts. At the memory stage, CD8+ T-cell frequencies can be boosted by administration of exogenous IL-2 Significantly, only CD8+ T cells that have received IL-2 signals during initial priming are able t mediate efficient secondary expansion following renewed antigenic challenge. Thus, IL-2 signals during different phases of an immune response are key in optimizing CD8+ T-cell functions, thereby affecting both primary and secondary responses of these T cells.

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