Simultaneous assessment of antigen-stimulated cytokine production and memory subset composition of memory CD8 T cells

Ali Jabbari, John T Harty
Journal of Immunological Methods 2006 June 30, 313 (1-2): 161-8
The functional identification of antigen-specific CD8 T cell populations is critical to understanding host responses to infection by intracellular pathogens. Furthermore, assessing the properties of protective memory CD8 T cell populations generated by immunization is necessary in the rational design of vaccines. Recently, a classification scheme was proposed in which memory CD8 T cells were divided into one of two distinct subsets, based on CD62L expression, that have different functional properties and protective capacities. Intracellular cytokine staining functionally identifies antigen-specific CD8 T cell populations after short in vitro stimulation with cognate peptide. This short stimulation, however, results in the cleavage of CD62L from the cell surface of antigen-specific CD8 T cells and precludes distinguishing CD62L(hi)- and CD62L(lo)-expressing memory cell subsets within this population. Here, we describe a method of preserving CD62L expression by the antigen-specific CD8 T cell population during coculture with antigen. This methodology allows for the identification and functional assessment of antigen-specific memory CD8 T cell populations, while simultaneously characterizing the memory subset composition of that population. Using this method, we directly identify differences in IL-2 production capacity by CD62L(hi)- and CD62L(lo)-expressing antigen-specific memory CD8 T cell populations.

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