Differential role of IL-2R signaling for CD8+ T cell responses in acute and chronic viral infections

Martin F Bachmann, Petra Wolint, Senta Walton, Katrin Schwarz, Annette Oxenius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

139 Citations (Scopus)


IL-2 is a cytokine with multiple and even divergent functions; it has been described as a key cytokine for in vitro T cell proliferation but is also essential for down-regulating T cell responses by inducing activation-induced cell death as well as regulatory T cells. The in vivo analysis of IL-2 function in regulating specific T cell responses has been hampered by the fact that mice deficient in IL-2 or its receptors develop lymphoproliferative diseases and/or autoimmunity. Here we generated chimeric mice harboring both IL-2R-competent and IL-2R-deficient T cells and assessed CD8+ T cell induction, function and maintenance after acute or persistent viral infections. Induction and maintenance of CD8+ T cells were relatively independent of IL-2R signaling during acute/resolved viral infection. In marked contrast, IL-2 was crucial for secondary expansion of memory CD8+ T cells and for the maintenance of virus-specific CD8+ T cells during persistent viral infections. Thus, depending on the chronicity of antigen exposure, IL-2R signaling is either essential or largely dispensable for induction and maintenance of virus-specific CD8+ T cell responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1502-12
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes

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