Radiation exposure occurs during medical procedures, nuclear accidents, or spaceflight, making effective medical countermeasures a public health priority. Naïve T cells are highly sensitive to radiation-induced depletion, although their numbers recover with time. Circulating memory CD8+ T cells are also depleted by radiation; however, their numbers do not recover. Critically, the impact of radiation exposure on tissue-resident memory T cells (TRM) remains unknown. Here, we found that sublethal thorax-targeted radiation resulted in the rapid and prolonged numerical decline of influenza A virus (IAV)–specific lung TRM in mice, but no decline in antigen-matched circulating memory T cells. Prolonged loss of lung TRM was associated with decreased heterosubtypic immunity. Importantly, boosting with IAV-epitope expressing pathogens that replicate in the lungs or peripheral tissues or with a peripherally administered mRNA vaccine regenerated lung TRM that was derived largely from circulating memory CD8+ T cells. Designing effective vaccination strategies to regenerate TRM will be important in combating the immunological effects of radiation exposure.

This article is distributed under the terms of an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike–No Mirror Sites license for the first six months after the publication date (see http://www.rupress.org/terms/). After six months it is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 4.0 International license, as described at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/).
You do not currently have access to this content.