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PLoS One. 2010 Sep 23;5(9):e12926. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012926.

Programmed Death-1 expression on Epstein Barr virus specific CD8+ T cells varies by stage of infection, epitope specificity, and T-cell receptor usage.

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Pediatrics, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States of America.



Programmed Death-1 (PD-1) is an inhibitory member of the CD28 family of molecules expressed on CD8+ T cells in response to antigenic stimulation. To better understand the role of PD-1 in antiviral immunity we examined the expression of PD-1 on Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) epitope-specific CD8+ T cells during acute infectious mononucleosis (AIM) and convalescence.


Using flow cytometry, we observed higher frequencies of EBV-specific CD8+ T cells and higher intensity of PD-1 expression on EBV-specific CD8+ T cells during AIM than during convalescence. PD-1 expression during AIM directly correlated with viral load and with the subsequent degree of CD8+ T cell contraction in convalescence. Consistent differences in PD-1 expression were observed between CD8+ T cells with specificity for two different EBV lytic antigen epitopes. Similar differences were observed in the degree to which PD-1 was upregulated on these epitope-specific CD8+ T cells following peptide stimulation in vitro. EBV epitope-specific CD8+ T cell proliferative responses to peptide stimulation were diminished during AIM regardless of PD-1 expression and were unaffected by blocking PD-1 interactions with PD-L1. Significant variability in PD-1 expression was observed on EBV epitope-specific CD8+ T cell subsets defined by V-beta usage.


These observations suggest that PD-1 expression is not only dependent on the degree of antigen presentation, but also on undefined characteristics of the responding cell that segregate with epitope specificity and V-beta usage.

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