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There is now considerable evidence suggesting that CD8(+) T cells are able to generate effector but not functional memory T cells following pathogenic infections in the absence of CD4(+) T cells. We show that following transplantation of allogeneic skin, in the absence of CD4(+) T cells, CD8(+) T cells become activated, proliferate, and expand exclusively in the draining lymph nodes and are able to infiltrate and reject skin allografts. CD44(+)CD8(+) T cells isolated 100 days after transplantation rapidly produce IFN-gamma following restimulation with alloantigen in vitro. In vivo CD44(+)CD8(+) T cells rejected donor-type skin allografts more rapidly than naive CD8(+) T cells demonstrating the ability of these putative memory T cells to mount an effective recall response in vivo. These data form the first direct demonstration that CD8(+) T cells are able to generate memory as well as effector cells in response to alloantigen during rejection in the complete absence of CD4(+) T cells. These data have important implications for the design of therapies to combat rejection and serve to reinforce the view that CD8(+) T cell responses to allografts require manipulation in addition to CD4(+) T cell responses to completely prevent the rejection of foreign organ transplants.

Original publication




Journal article


J immunol

Publication Date





2316 - 2323


Animals, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Cell Proliferation, Cells, Cultured, Graft Rejection, Immunologic Memory, Interferon-gamma, Isoantigens, Mice, Mice, Knockout, Skin Transplantation, Time Factors, Transplantation, Homologous