Immunological memory has generally been ascribed to the development of long-lived memory cells that can persist for years in the absence of renewed antigenic encounter. In the experiments reported here, we have adoptively transferred memory T cells in the presence and absence of priming antigen and assessed their functional survival. The results indicate that, in contrast to the traditional view, the maintenance of T cell memory requires the presence of antigen, suggesting that memory, like tolerance, is an antigen-dependent process rather than an antigen-independent state.

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