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J Immunol Methods. 2004 Apr;287(1-2):91-9.

The use of class-I HLA tetramers for the detection of hepatitis C virus NS3-specific CD8(+) T cells in patients with chronic infection.

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Department of Medicine (Gastroenterology and Hepatology), Stanford University School of Medicine, CA 94305, USA.



New methods to detect virus-specific T-cell responses have recently been developed. Several human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-peptide tetramers for the detection of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-specific CD8(+) T cells are under evaluation.


Evaluation of one HLA class I-tetramer (HCVNS3-2) for the detection of HCV NS3-specific CD8(+) T cells in a series of 38 HLA-A2(+) chronically infected patients.


Almost half (42%) of the patients had detectable NS3-specific CD8(+) T cells. The frequencies of such cells ranged from 0.01% to 0.22% of total CD8(+) T cells. No significant differences in clinical features or mean viral load were detected between patients with or without tetramer + CD8(+) T cells.


The tetramer HCVNS3-2 may be very useful for the study of the HCV-specific CD8(+) immune response. Combination of this reagent with other tetramers based on other HCV peptides may help in the understanding of the immune response to the virus. However, a panel of tetramers based on several parts of the HCV polyprotein may be a mandatory requirement to explore the whole breadth of the CD8(+) T-cell response against HCV and to detect that response in the majority of patients with chronic infection.

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