T cell responses to viruses are initiated and maintained in tissue sites; however, knowledge of human antiviral T cells is largely derived from blood. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) persists in most humans, requires T cell immunity to control, yet tissue immune responses remain undefined. Here, we investigated human CMV-specific T cells, virus persistence and CMV-associated T cell homeostasis in blood, lymphoid, mucosal and secretory tissues of 44 CMV seropositive and 28 seronegative donors. CMV-specific T cells were maintained in distinct distribution patterns, highest in blood, bone marrow (BM), or lymph nodes (LN), with the frequency and function in blood distinct from tissues. CMV genomes were detected predominantly in lung and also in spleen, BM, blood and LN. High frequencies of activated CMV-specific T cells were found in blood and BM samples with low virus detection, whereas in lung, CMV-specific T cells were present along with detectable virus. In LNs, CMV-specific T cells exhibited quiescent phenotypes independent of virus. Overall, T cell differentiation was enhanced in sites of viral persistence with age. Together, our results suggest tissue T cell reservoirs for CMV control shaped by both viral and tissue-intrinsic factors, with global effects on homeostasis of tissue T cells over the lifespan.
- Submitted: 24 May 2016
- Revision received 29 September 2016
- Accepted: 15 December 2016
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