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Journal of Parasitology Research
Volume 2011, Article ID 243796, 9 pages
Review Article

CD8 T Cells and Toxoplasma gondii: A New Paradigm

Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Tropical Medicine, George Washington University, Washington, DC 20037, USA

Received 31 December 2010; Accepted 10 March 2011

Academic Editor: D. S. Lindsay

Copyright © 2011 Jason P. Gigley et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


CD8 T cells are essential for control of Toxoplasma gondii infection. Once activated they undergo differentiation into short-lived effector and memory precursor effector cells. As effector cells, CD8 T cells exert immune pressure on the parasite via production of inflammatory cytokines and through their cytolytic activity. Once immune control has been established, the parasite encysts and develops into chronic infection regulated by the memory CD8 T-cell population. Several signals are needed for this process to be initiated and for development of fully differentiated memory CD8 T cells. With newly developed tools including CD8 T-cell tetramers and TCR transgenic mice, dissecting the biology behind T. gondii-specific CD8 T-cell responses can now be more effectively addressed. In this paper, we discuss what is known about the signals required for effective T. gondii-specific CD8 T-cell development, their differentiation, and effector function.