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J Immunol Methods. 2003 May 1;276(1-2):89-101.

A novel cytotoxicity assay to evaluate antigen-specific CTL responses using a colorimetric substrate for Granzyme B.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Alberta, 463 Medical Sciences Bldg., T6G 2H7, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


We have utilized the unique enzymatic properties of a key cytotoxic mediator in target cell destruction, Granzyme B (GrB), to establish an attractive alternative to 51Cr-release assays for the assessment of antigen-specific CTL responses. A number of potential colorimetric peptide substrates were compared to evaluate levels of GrB activity in cytolytic cells. The most specific and sensitive substrate for GrB was Ac-IEPD-pNA, as shown by the minimal enzymatic hydrolysis in apoptotic Jurkat cells and strong hydrolysis in human NK cells. When human peripheral blood lymphocytes were stimulated in vitro, elevated GrB levels were detected by both Ac-IEPD-pNA and a GrB ELISA. Analysis of allo-antigen-specific murine CTLs revealed that GrB exocytosis was only detectable upon challenge with appropriate allogeneic target cells and strongly correlated to 51Cr-release data. The validity of using Ac-IEPD-pNA in vaccine trials was demonstrated in mice immunized with allogeneic P815 cells, where GrB enzymatic activity was measurable in ex vivo splenocytes cell cultures only upon co-incubation with P815 targets. Additionally, influenza-infected mice were also assessed for GrB activity following in vitro peptide-stimulation of splenocytes and strongly reflected both peptide-specific tetramer staining and 51Cr-release results. The novel cytotoxic assay presented here should give investigators a sensitive, cross-species, nonradioactive alternative to 51Cr-release assays as a means to assess antigen-specific CTL responses in vaccine trials.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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