The emerging role of resident memory T cells in protective immunity and inflammatory disease


Over the past decade, it has become clear that there is an important subset of memory T cells that resides in tissues—tissue-resident memory T (TRM) cells. There is an emerging understanding that TRM cells have a role in human tissue-specific immune and inflammatory diseases. Furthermore, the nature of the molecular signals that maintain TRM cells in tissues is the subject of much investigation. In addition, whereas it is logical for TRM cells to be located in barrier tissues at interfaces with the environment, these cells have also been found in brain, kidney, joint and other non-barrier tissues in humans and mice. Given the biology and behavior of these cells, it is likely that they have a role in chronic relapsing and remitting diseases of both barrier and non-barrier tissues. In this Review we discuss recent insights into the biology of TRM cells with a particular focus on their roles in disease, both proven and putative.

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Figure 1: The generation of tissue TRM cells after infection of barrier tissues.
Figure 2: The role of TRM cells in tissue-specific autoimmune and inflammatory disease.


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This work was supported by funding from the US National Institutes of Health (R01 AR065807 and TR01 AI097128 to T.S.K.). Discussions with R.A. Clark are gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Thomas S Kupper.

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T.S.K. is an inventor on US Patent 8691502, assigned to TremRx, Inc.

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Park, C., Kupper, T. The emerging role of resident memory T cells in protective immunity and inflammatory disease. Nat Med 21, 688–697 (2015).

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