Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 14517277
J. Exp. Med. 2003 Oct;198(7):1089-102
The exact role of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules in the peripheral survival of naive T cells is controversial, as some studies have suggested that they are critically required whereas others have suggested that they are not. Here we controlled for some of the features that differed among the earlier studies, and analyzed both the survival and expansion of naive CD4+ T cells transferred into MHC syngeneic, allogeneic, or MHC negative environments. We found that naive T cells transferred into MHC negative or allogeneic environments often fail to survive because of rejection and/or competition by natural killer (NK) cells, rather than failure to recognize a particular MHC allele. In the absence of NK cells, naive CD4+ T cells survived equally well regardless of the MHC type of the host. There was, however, an MHC requirement for extensive space-induced “homeostatic” expansion. Although the first few divisions occurred in the absence of MHC molecules, the cells did not continue to divide or transit to a CD44hi phenotype. Surprisingly, this MHC requirement could be satisfied by alleles other than the restricting haplotype. Therefore, space-induced expansion and survival are two different phenomena displaying different MHC requirements. Memory CD4+ T cells, whose survival and expansion showed no requirements for MHC molecules at all, dampened the space-induced expansion of naive cells, showing that the two populations are not independent in their requirements for peripheral niches.