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AIDS. 2002 Jan 25;16(2):171-80.

Amplification of low-frequency antiviral CD8 T cell responses using autologous dendritic cells.

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Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Immunology, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA.



To utilize the potent antigen-presenting capacity of mature dendritic cells (MDC) in order to develop a rapid, sensitive method for quantifying antigen-specific CD8 T cells present at low frequency in peripheral blood.


Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were obtained from seven HIV-1-positive individuals with low to moderate CD8 T cell responses, including five on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). IFN-gamma ELISPOT assays were performed using either monocytes or MDC to present antigens expressed by recombinant vaccinia viruses (r-VV).


Peripheral blood-derived monocytes were cultured for 5-6 days in the presence of IL-4 and granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor, then matured in monocyte-conditioned medium. MDC were infected with r-VV and co-cultured in an ELISPOT assay with autologous monocyte-depleted PBMC.


Relative to autologous monocytes, MDC amplified detection of antigen-specific CD8 T cells by 2-30-fold in response to antigens from HIV-1, Epstein-Barr virus and cytomegalovirus. Furthermore, antigenic specificities were revealed that had not been detected using standard ELISPOT of PBMC.


This assay will prove useful for the detection of memory T cells present at low frequency, and may be of interest for identifying subdominant cytotoxic T lymphocyte epitopes. This method may have broad applications for the detection of antiviral CD8 T cell responses in patient populations in whom such responses have been difficult to detect, including HIV-1-seropositive individuals with advanced disease or undergoing HAART.

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