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Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2010 Feb;59(2):195-202. doi: 10.1007/s00262-009-0778-4. Epub 2009 Oct 22.

Multimer technologies for detection and adoptive transfer of antigen-specific T cells.

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Department of Internal Medicine III, Clinical Stem Cell Transplantation and Immunotherapy, University Clinic Rostock, 18055 Rostock, Germany.


Identification and purification of antigen-specific T cells without altering their functional status are of high scientific and clinical interest. Staining with major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-peptide multimers constitutes a very powerful method to study antigen-specific T-cell subpopulations, allowing their direct visualization and quantification. MHC-peptide multimers, such as dimers, tetramers, pentamers, streptamers, dextramers and octamers have been used to evaluate the frequency of CD8(+) T cells, specific for tumor/leukemia-associated antigens as well as for viral antigens, e.g., CMVpp65 and EBV-EBNA. Moreover, MHC-peptide multimers have been used for rapid and efficient ex vivo isolation and expansion of T cells. A recent development in the field of MHC-peptide multimers led to the purification of CD8(+) T cells specific for leukemia antigens. This might help to select leukemia-specific donor lymphocyte infusions (DLIs), thus allowing dissection of the noxious graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) from beneficial anti-viral and even anti-leukemic effects. This review covers different types of MHC-peptide multimers and their applications, as well as the impact that multimers might have on further development of DLIs.

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