Document Type



Immunity | Immunology and Infectious Disease | Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


Peripheral tolerance to developmentally regulated antigens is necessary to sustain tissue homeostasis. We have now devised an inducible and reversible system that allows interrogation of T-cell tolerance induction in endogenous naïve and memory CD8 T cells. Our data show that peripheral CD8 T-cell tolerance can be preserved through two distinct mechanisms, antigen addiction leading to anergy for naïve T cells and ignorance for memory T cells. Induction of antigen in dendritic cells resulted in substantial expansion and maintenance of endogenous antigen-specific CD8 T cells. The self-reactive cells initially exhibited effector activity but eventually became unresponsive. Upon antigen removal, the antigen-specific population waned, resulting in development of a self-specific memory subset that recalled to subsequent challenge. In striking contrast to naïve CD8 T cells, preexisting antigen-specific memory CD8 T cells failed to expand after antigen induction and essentially ignored the antigen despite widespread expression by dendritic cells. The inclusion of inflammatory signals partially overcame memory CD8 T-cell ignorance of self-antigen. Thus, peripheral CD8 T-cell tolerance for naïve CD8 T cells depended on the continuous presence of antigen, whereas memory CD8 T cells were prohibited from autoreactivity in the absence of inflammation.


Originally published in :

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 December 26; 109(52): 21438–21443.

Published online 2012 December 10. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1217409110

PMCID: PMC3535649