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Remembrance of things past

, : Remembrance of things past. Nature 420: 8-9

A recent article by Kaech et al. (Cell 2002;111:837-51) sheds light on the generation of memory T cells. Memory T cells help the body to fight off infectious microorganisms that it has encountered before. There are 2 models for the generation of memory cells: a few effector cells may be randomly selected for survival and differentiation into memory cells, or the differentiated precursors of memory cells may already exist at the effector phase. Kaech et al.'s finding that a few effector cells gradually convert to long-lived memory cells, even as most effector cells die, supports the second proposition. However, this type of immunological memory likely protects only against acute infections. Control of infections such as AIDS, tuberculosis, and leprosy, in which antigen is not removed, likely depends instead on the continuous presence of effector cells.


DOI: 10.2307/20589806

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