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J Immunol Methods. 2007 Aug 31;325(1-2):20-34. Epub 2007 Jun 12.

Flow cytometric detection of degranulation reveals phenotypic heterogeneity of degranulating CMV-specific CD8+ T lymphocytes in rhesus macaques.

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Department of Immunology, New England Primate Research Center, Harvard Medical School, Southborough, MA 01772, USA.


Flow-cytometric conditions for detection of lysosomal-associated membrane proteins (LAMPs) on the surface of recently degranulated cells were optimized for rhesus macaques and used to investigate the functional properties of rhesus cytomegalovirus (rhCMV)-specific CD8+ T lymphocytes with regards to cytotoxicity and interferon (IFN)-gamma secretion in six asymptomatic CMV-seropositive rhesus macaques. Unlike humans, the rhesus macaque LAMP-1 protein CD107a underwent little or no endocytosis over a six to 18 h stimulation period. Following in vitro stimulation, rhCMV-specific CD8+ T lymphocytes were heterogeneous with regards to the composition of cells positive for CD107a and/or IFN-gamma, time to reach peak degranulation, and kinetics of IFN-gamma secretion relative to degranulation. Responder CD8+ T lymphocytes that underwent degranulation without IFN-gamma production (CD107a+IFN-gamma-) were predominantly composed of terminally differentiated effectors (CD28-CD45RA+). Moreover, they had significantly lower frequencies of effector memory (CD28-CD45RA-) cells compared to the IFN-gamma-secreting cells that did or did not undergo degranulation (CD107a+IFN-gamma+ or CD107a-IFN-gamma+). The perforin content of effector CD8+ T lymphocytes was significantly greater than that of effector memory CD8+ T lymphocytes in rhesus macaques, suggesting that they were more cytolytic. Our findings suggest that the composition of rhCMV-specific CD8+ T lymphocytes with regards to CD107a+IFN-gamma- responders may be an important determinant of their ability to control CMV replication.

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