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J Immunol Methods. 2001 Jan 1;247(1-2):49-60.

ELISPOT assay for detection of peptide specific interferon-gamma secreting cells in rhesus macaques.

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Malaria Program, Naval Medical Research Center, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA.


A reliable procedure to measure antigen specific T cell responses in rhesus macaques is required to determine the efficacy of vaccines and immunotherapies. The currently available T cell assays are poorly quantifiable or technically difficult to perform. Classical 51Cr-release cytotoxic T cell (CTL) assays are cumbersome and difficult to quantitate reproducibly. Detection of specific T-cell using MHC-peptide tetrameric complexes is highly sensitive, but requires knowledge of MHC type and prior identification of T cell epitopes. We therefore developed a rhesus interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) ELISPOT assay capable of detecting IFN-gamma secretion in response to stimulation with pooled 20-mer peptides. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from rhesus monkeys immunized with a DNA vaccine and recombinant canary pox encoding the Plasmodium knowlesi circumsporozoite protein (PkCSP) were incubated with pools of peptides from PkCSP. Positive responses to peptide pools and individual peptides ranging from 100 to 450 spot forming cells (SFC)/10(6) PBMC were detected in four of four immunized monkeys and in zero of two control monkeys. In two monkeys studied in detail, the IFN-gamma response was focussed on a single 20-mer peptide, QGDGANAGQPQAQGDGANAG, and was dependent on CD4(+), but not CD8(+), T cells. Background responses in control monkeys and preimmunization PBMCs ranged from 10 to 50 SFC/10(6) PBMC. The average within assay and between assay coefficients of variation (CV) for this peptide ELISPOT were 21.9 and 24.7%, respectively. This peptide IFN-gamma assay will be a useful tool for evaluation of T cell responses in rhesus macaques.

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