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Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) establishes a latent infection that generally remains asymptomatic in immune-competent hosts for decades but can cause serious illness in immune-compromised individuals. The long-term control of CMV requires considerable effort from the host immune system and has a lasting impact on the profile of the immune system. One hallmark of CMV infection is the maintenance of large populations of CMV-specific memory CD8(+) T cells - a phenomenon termed memory inflation - and emerging data suggest that memory inflation is associated with impaired immunity in the elderly. In this Review, we discuss the molecular triggers that promote memory inflation, the idea that memory inflation could be considered a natural pathway of T cell maturation that could be harnessed in vaccination, and the broader implications of CMV infection and the T cell responses it elicits.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Rev Immunol

Publication Date





367 - 377


Aging, Animals, Cytomegalovirus, Cytomegalovirus Infections, Host-Pathogen Interactions, Humans, Immunologic Memory, T-Cell Antigen Receptor Specificity, T-Lymphocyte Subsets, T-Lymphocytes