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Vaccine. 2004 Jul 29;22(21-22):2769-75.

Human airway epithelial cells present antigen to influenza virus-specific CD8+ CTL inefficiently after incubation with viral protein together with ISCOMATRIX.

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Institute of Virology, National Influenza Center, Erasmus Medical Center, P.O. Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


In the present paper, an in vitro model was established in which the interaction between influenza virus-specific CD8+ T cells and human airway epithelial cells can be studied. To this end, the human lung epithelial cell line A549 was transduced with the HLA-A*0201 gene. This MHC class I allele is involved in the presentation of the immunodominant M158-66 cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitope of the influenza A virus matrix protein. The A549-HLA-A2 cells and a CD8+ T cell clone specific for the M158-66 epitope were used to evaluate ISCOMATRIX (IMX), which is considered a potential mucosal adjuvant for influenza vaccines, for its capacity to activate virus-specific CTL after incubation with epithelial cells. It was found that virus infected epithelial cells activated virus-specific CTL efficiently. However, incubation of epithelial cells with ISCOMATRIX and recombinant M1 protein activated CD8+ T cells inefficiently, unlike the incubation of C1R cells expressing a HLA-A2 trans gene or HLA-A2+ B-lymphoblastoid cells with these reagents. It was concluded that this lack of antigen presentation by epithelial cells indicate that these cells are not subject to killing by virus-specific CTL upon instillation with ISCOMATRIX-based vaccines, which may be a favorable property of mucosal vaccines.

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