Prime-boost immunization is a promising strategy for inducing and amplifying pathogen- or tumor-specific memory CD8 T cell responses. Although expansion of CD8 T cell populations following the second Ag dose, is integral to the prime-boost strategy, it remains unclear when, after priming, memory T cells become competent to proliferate. In this study, we show that Ag-specific CD8 T cells with the capacity to undergo extensive expansion are already present at the peak of the primary immune response in mice. These early memory T cells represent a small fraction of the primary immune response and, at early time points, their potential to proliferate is obscured by large effector T cell populations that rapidly clear Ag upon reimmunization. With sufficient Ag boosting, however, secondary expansion of these memory cells can be induced as early as 5-7 days following primary immunization. Importantly, both early and delayed boosting result in similar levels of protective immunity to subsequent pathogen challenge. Early commitment and differentiation of memory T cells during primary immunization suggest that a short duration between priming and boosting is feasible, providing potential logistic advantages for large-scale prime-boost vaccination of human populations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy