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Immunol Invest. 2007;36(5-6):829-45.

Simultaneous analysis of in vivo CD8+ T cell cytotoxicity against multiple epitopes using multicolor flow cytometry.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, New Hampshire, USA.


CD8+ T cells play a critical role in host defense against infections and tumors. Analysis of cytotoxic function of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells in animal models would be important in optimizing vaccine design against infections and tumors. In vivo cytotoxicity assays using fluorescent cellular dyes have been used as a popular alternative to traditionally used in vitro (51)Cr-release assays. With the identification of multiple epitopes in various pathogen models, methods to simultaneously analyze cytotoxicity of CD8+ T cells to multiple epitopes in vivo would assist studies which aim to generate protective CD8+ T cell immunity to multiple epitopes. In this study, we evaluate the use of multiple fluorescent cellular dyes for the in vivo cytotoxicity assay. The use of 3 dyes allowed us to analyze the cytotoxicity of antigen-specific CD8+ T cell populations to multiple epitopes generated by virus infections, as well as their functional avidity, in vivo. Our studies extend the use of in vivo cytotoxicity assays to allow direct comparisons of cytotoxicity to various epitopes in the same animal and may also be applicable to assessment of in vitro cytotoxicity of human CD8+ T cells specific for multiple viral or tumor antigens in clinical settings.

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