Memory-phenotype CD4+T cells: a naturally arising T lymphocyte population possessing innate immune function

Takeshi Kawabe, Alan Sher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In conventional adaptive immune responses, upon recognition of foreign antigens, naive CD4+ T lymphocytes are activated to differentiate into effector/memory cells. In addition, emerging evidence suggests that in the steady state, naive CD4+ T cells spontaneously proliferate in response to self-antigens to acquire a memory phenotype (MP) through homeostatic proliferation. This expansion is particularly profound in lymphopenic environments but also occurs in lymphoreplete, normal conditions. The 'MP T lymphocytes' generated in this manner are maintained by rapid proliferation in the periphery and they tonically differentiate into T-bet-expressing 'MP1' cells. Such MP1 CD4+ T lymphocytes can exert innate effector function, producing IFN-γin response to IL-12 in the absence of antigen recognition, thereby contributing to host defense. In this review, we will discuss our current understanding of how MP T lymphocytes are generated and persist in steady-state conditions, their populational heterogeneity as well as the evidence for their effector function. We will also compare these properties with those of a similar population of innate memory cells previously identified in the CD8+ T lymphocyte lineage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-196
Number of pages8
JournalInternational immunology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Apr 1
Externally publishedYes


  • CD4T lymphocytes
  • homeostasis
  • memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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