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We have analyzed the CD8(+) T cell response to EBV and find that a larger primary burst size is associated with proportionally greater decay during the development of memory. Consequently, immunodominance and clonal dominance are less marked in memory than primary responses. An intuitive interpretation of this finding is that there is a limit to the number of cell divisions a T cell clone can undergo, and that the progeny of clones that have expanded massively during a primary immune response are more prone to die as a result of senescence. To test this hypothesis, we have derived a mathematical model of the response of different T cell clones of varying avidity for Ag in the primary and persistent phases of viral infection. When cellular survival and replication are linked to T cell avidity for Ag and Ag dose, then high-avidity T cells dominate both the primary and secondary responses. We then incorporated a limit in the number of cell divisions of individual T cell clones to test whether such a constraint could reproduce the observed association between cell division number and alterations in the contribution of clones to the response to persistent infection. Comparison of the model output with the experimental results obtained from primary and persistent EBV infection suggests that there is indeed a role for cellular senescence in shaping the immune response to persistent infection.

Original publication




Journal article


J Immunol

Publication Date





3309 - 3317


Cell Differentiation, Cellular Senescence, Chronic Disease, Clone Cells, Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte, HLA-A2 Antigen, HLA-B8 Antigen, Herpesvirus 4, Human, Humans, Immunologic Memory, Infectious Mononucleosis, Kinetics, Longitudinal Studies, Lymphocyte Activation, Models, Immunological, Peptide Fragments, Protein Binding, Staining and Labeling, T-Lymphocyte Subsets