Research ArticleINFECTIOUS DISEASE

Memory-phenotype CD4+ T cells spontaneously generated under steady-state conditions exert innate TH1-like effector function

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Science Immunology  16 Jun 2017:
Vol. 2, Issue 12, eaam9304
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aam9304

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Broadening the immune spectrum

Traditionally, the immune system has been thought to have two branches—a rapid antigen-independent innate response and a more specific antigen-dependent variable response. Kawabe et al. now add to the view that the immune response covers a broader spectrum. They found that memory-phenotype CD4+ T cells are generated from naïve T cells independently of infection, aided by environmental interleukin-12 (IL-12). These cells rapidly produced IFN-γ in response to IL-12 in the absence of pathogen recognition and provided both nonspecific defense and an adaptive immune boost against the TH1 pathogen Toxoplasma gondii. These memory-phenotype CD4+ T cells provide an early innate response, forming an additional span bridging innate and adaptive immunity.