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J Immunol. 1999 Jan 1;162(1):560-7.

Comparison of primary sensitization of naive human T cells to varicella-zoster virus peptides by dendritic cells in vitro with responses elicited in vivo by varicella vaccination.

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Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA 94305, USA.


Dendritic cells (DC) are potent APC during primary and secondary immune responses. The first objective of this study was to determine whether human DC mediate in vitro sensitization of naive CD4+ T cells to epitopes of the immediate early 62 (IE62) protein of varicella zoster virus (VZV). The induction of CD4+ T cell proliferative responses to eight synthetic peptides representing amino acid sequences of the VZV IE62 protein was assessed using T cells and DC from VZV-susceptible donors. The second objective was to compare in vitro responses of naive T cells with responses to VZV peptides induced in vivo after immunization with varicella vaccine. T cell proliferation was induced by three peptides, P1, P4, and P7, in 71-100% of the donors tested before and after vaccination using DC as APC. Monocytes were effective APC for VZV peptides only after immunization. Two peptides, P2 and P8, induced naive T cell proliferation less effectively and were also less immunogenic for T cells from vaccinated or naturally immune donors. T cell recognition of specific peptides was concordant between naive, DC-mediated responses, and postvaccine responses using monocytes as APC in 69% of comparisons (p = 0.05; chi2); the predictive value of a positive response to an IE62 peptide before immunization for T cell sensitization in vivo was 82%. These observations indicate that primary T cell responses detected in vitro using DC as APC may be useful to characterize the potential immunogenicity of viral protein epitopes in vivo.

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