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J Infect Dis. 2003 Jul 1;188(1):40-52. Epub 2003 Jun 23.

Identification of CD8+ T cell epitopes in the immediate early 62 protein (IE62) of varicella-zoster virus, and evaluation of frequency of CD8+ T cell response to IE62, by use of IE62 peptides after varicella vaccination.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA, and Faculty of Biosciences, University of Witten/Herdecke, Witten, Germany.


Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) causes varicella, establishes neuronal latency, and can reactivate, resulting in herpes zoster. VZV-specific T cells are important for controlling infection. VZV immediate early protein 62 (IE62) is recognized by cytotoxic T cells from immune individuals, but no CD8(+) T cell epitopes have been defined for any VZV protein. CD8(+) T cell frequencies were assessed by cytokine flow cytometry (CFC), by use of synthetic-peptide pools corresponding to the IE62 sequence. IE62 peptide-specific CD8(+) T cells were below the threshold of detection, by direct CFC of either whole blood or peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Activated CD8(+)CD69(+) T cells that produced interferon-gamma were detectable after in vitro restimulation of PBMCs, and restricted epitopes were identified for HLA-A*0201-positive subjects. Varicella vaccination of 3 VZV-immune subjects was associated with increases in IE62 peptide-specific CD8(+) T cells, a finding indicating that in vivo re-exposure boosts memory immunity to this important viral protein.

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