The longevity of the influenza virus-specific CD8 + T cell response following intranasal delivery of a synthetic lipopeptide was investigated and the characteristics and location of the cells associated with viral clearance examined. The lipopeptide, incorporating an epitope for CD8 + T cells and another for CD4 + T cells with the lipid moiety S-[2,3-bis(palmitoyloxy)propyl]cysteine (Pam2Cys) attached, induced potent and long-lived pulmonary protection. Both the lipopeptide and its largely unprotective non-lipidated counterpart elicited comparable numbers of CD8 + T cells in the spleen, which was the main location of the memory pool. However, the lipopeptide, unlike the non-lipidated peptide, also induced a substantial memory population that remained in the lungs and was rapidly activated upon viral challenge months later. These lipopeptide-induced lung-resident CD8 + T cells were also very similar in number and IFN-γ-secreting potential to those induced by prior exposure to the virus itself and are likely mediators of initial viral clearance prior to recruitment from the expanding lymph node T cell pool. Significant clearing responses were demonstrated as late as 9 months post-lipopeptide vaccination. This study shows that CD8 + T cells primed by the lipopeptide are not only long-lived but can take up residence in the lung where they are important early mediators of pulmonary protection.
- T cells