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Transpl Infect Dis. 2014 Oct;16(5):713-23. doi: 10.1111/tid.12281. Epub 2014 Sep 9.

Differential expression of THELPER 1 cytokines upon antigen stimulation predicts ex vivo proliferative potential and cytokine production of virus-specific T cells following re-stimulation.

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Department of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, University Children's Hospital Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.



Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and human adenovirus (ADV) infections are causes of morbidity after stem cell transplantation. Antigen (Ag)-specific T cells are essential for the control of viral infections. However, in vivo expansion potential of T-cell subpopulations is hardly predictable in humans. Furthermore, ex vivo identification of human T cells with repopulating capacity for adoptive T-cell transfer has been difficult.


We analyzed Ag-specific T-cell populations, subdivided according to the expression of different THELPER- 1 (Th1) cytokines. Isolation by flow cytometry was based on interferon-gamma (IFN)-γ, interleukin (IL)-2, or tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) secretion of T cells after ex vivo stimulation with the Ags hexon (for ADV) and pp65 (for CMV). Isolated T cells were expanded and examined for functional characteristics, expansion/differentiation potential, and naïve, effector memory, central memory, and late effector phenotypes.


Isolation based on IFN-γ production provides a T-cell population with a mixture of early, central memory, and effector memory T cells, high expansion potential, and effective cytokine production. Selection of T cells with Ag-specific expression of IL-2 or TNF-α, however, results in a T-cell population with reduced proliferation and lower effector potential after expansion.


We conclude that the exclusive secretion of IFN-γ in the human antiviral T-cell responses preferentially leads to higher repopulation capacities of antiviral T cells, compared to IL-2 or TNF-α secreting T-cell populations.


Th1 cytokines; adenovirus; adoptive T-cell transfer; cytomegalovirus

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