GSBS Student Publications


Heterologous immunity between viruses

Student Author(s)

Jenny Wun-Yue Che

GSBS Program

Immunology & Microbiology

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Pathology



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Animals; Antigens, Viral; Autoimmunity; CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes; Cross Reactions; Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte; Graft Rejection; Humans; Immunodominant Epitopes; Immunologic Memory; Mice; Viral Vaccines; Viruses


Immunity | Immunology and Infectious Disease | Immunology of Infectious Disease | Immunopathology


Immune memory responses to previously encountered pathogens can sometimes alter the immune response to and the course of infection of an unrelated pathogen by a process known as heterologous immunity. This response can lead to enhanced or diminished protective immunity and altered immunopathology. Here, we discuss the nature of T-cell cross-reactivity and describe matrices of epitopes from different viruses eliciting cross-reactive CD8(+) T-cell responses. We examine the parameters of heterologous immunity mediated by these cross-reactive T cells during viral infections in mice and humans. We show that heterologous immunity can disrupt T-cell memory pools, alter the complexity of the T-cell repertoire, change patterns of T-cell immunodominance, lead to the selection of viral epitope-escape variants, alter the pathogenesis of viral infections, and, by virtue of the private specificity of T-cell repertoires within individuals, contribute to dramatic variations in viral disease. We propose that heterologous immunity is an important factor in resistance to and variations of human viral infections and that issues of heterologous immunity should be considered in the design of vaccines.

Rights and Permissions

Citation: Welsh, R. M., Che, J. W., Brehm, M. A. and Selin, L. K. (2010), Heterologous immunity between viruses. Immunological Reviews, 235: 244–266. doi: 10.1111/j.0105-2896.2010.00897.x. Link to article on publisher's website

DOI of Published Version


Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

Journal Title

Immunological reviews

PubMed ID