Immunological Memory

Abstract

Immunological memory is a distinct characteristic of the immune system. This property provides an advantage in the course of protective responses against pathogens and tumour cells. The concept of immunologic memory classically refers to the property of the adaptive branch of the immune system and was described as the development of a response against the same antigen that is greater and faster than the original response. However, there exist two additional types of immunity: transmissible neonatal memory and innate memory or trained immunity. Considerable progress has been made in the elucidation of the multiple cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating the induction and maintenance of immunological memory. Although our understanding remains imperfect, the current cumulative information allows one to recognise operational patterns and identify those principles that will aid better understand the role of the immune system in protection against disease and in the design of better vaccines.

Key Concepts

  • Immunological memory represents an important aspect of the immune system in mammals.
  • Transmissible neonatal memory refers to antibodies transmitted from mother to newborn which protect against cytopathic and life‐threatening pathogens.
  • Classical immunological memory is an acquired property of the adaptive branch of the immune system and involves both B lymphocytes (antibody‐producing cells) and T cells.
  • Innate immunologic memory or trained immunity is a form of immunologic memory that relates to the innate branch of the immune system and involves monocytes, macrophages and natural killer (NK) cells.
  • Memory responses by the immune system occur according to only partially understood operational principles.
  • Memory responses form the basis for the effectiveness of vaccines against pathogens and cancer cells.
  • Memory responses protect the individual and the species against the threat of pathogens and cancer cells.

Keywords: immunological memory; B cells; T cells; germinal centre; memory B cells; effector memory T cells; central memory T cells; stem cell‐like memory T cells; memory antibody response; protection; trained immunity

Figure 1. Dynamic view of the generation of memory B lymphocytes following the germinal centre (GC) reaction. CD45RO (RO) and CD45RO+ (RO+) lymphocytes in GC are seen in relationship with somatic hypermutation. An inverse relationship exists for RO and RO+ B lymphocytes with respect to AID activity and cell proliferation (Ki67 positivity), whereas CD69 positivity (activation) increases as cells become RO+. Memory (M) B cells derive from RO+ cells.
Figure 2. Schematic representation of the two main phases of the primary expansion leading into a long‐term response waiting to re‐encounter antigen. Programming and post‐programming phases, and their relationship with maintenance and homeostatic proliferation are shown.
Figure 3. Development and persistence of serum antibody, and generation and maintenance of immunological memory following one dose of noninfectious poliovirus vaccine. Source: From Zanetti M, Sercarz E, Salk J. The immunology of new generation vaccines. Immunol Today. ;8:18–25. © 1987 Elsevier.
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Further Reading

Ahmed R and Gray D (1996) Immunological memory and protective immunity: understanding their relation. Science 272: 54–60.

Zanetti M and Franchini G (2006) T cell memory and protective immunity: is more better? Trends in Immunology 27: 511–517.

Zanetti M and Schoenberger S (eds) (2010) Memory T cells. Landes Bioscience Publisher: Austin, TX. ISBN: 978‐1‐4419‐6450‐2.

Crotty S (2011) Follicular helper CD4 T cells (TFH). Annual Review of Immunology 29: 621–663.

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Zanetti, Maurizio(Dec 2020) Immunological Memory. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0029227]