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J Immunol. 2001 Jun 15;166(12):7268-75.

Factors affecting the efficiency of CD8+ T cell cross-priming with exogenous antigens.

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  • 1BD Immunocytometry Systems, San Jose, CA 95131, USA.


Processing of exogenous protein Ags by APC leads predominantly to presentation of peptides on class II MHC and, thus, stimulation of CD4+ T cell responses. However, "cross-priming" can also occur, whereby peptides derived from exogenous Ags become displayed on class I MHC molecules and stimulate CD8+ T cell responses. We compared the efficiency of cross-priming with exogenous proteins to use of peptide Ags in human whole blood using a flow cytometry assay to detect T cell intracellular cytokine production. CD8+ T cell responses to whole CMV proteins were poorly detected (compared with peptide responses) in most CMV-seropositive donors. Such responses could be increased by using higher doses of Ag than were required to achieve maximal CD4+ T cell responses. A minority of donors displayed significantly more efficient CD8+ T cell responses to whole protein, even at low Ag doses. These responses were MHC class I-restricted and dependent upon proteosomal processing, indicating that they were indeed due to cross-priming. The ability to efficiently cross-prime was not a function of the number of dendritic cells in the donor's blood. Neither supplementation of freshly isolated dendritic cells nor use of cultured, Ag-pulsed dendritic cells could significantly boost CD8 responses to whole-protein Ags in poorly cross-priming donors. Interestingly, freshly isolated monocytes performed almost as well as dendritic cells in inducing CD8 responses via cross-priming. In conclusion, the efficiency of cross-priming appears to be poor in most donors and is dependent upon properties of the individual's APC and/or T cell repertoire. It remains unknown whether cross-priming ability translates into any clinical advantage in ability to induce CD8+ T cell responses to foreign Ags.

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