[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Viremia during human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) infection results in progressive impairment of several components of the immune system. Here a unique model of repeated treatment interruptions (TIs) was used with the aim to reveal the effect of controlled short-term viremia on innate stimuli responsiveness and circulating dendritic cells (DCs). Sequential peripheral blood samples from HIV-1-infected patients on combination antiretroviral therapy, subjected to repeated TI cycles as part of a therapeutic DNA vaccination study, were analyzed. In vitro responsiveness of peripheral blood mononuclear cells to toll-like receptor (TLR) stimuli was analyzed by cytokine secretion, and frequencies of plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) and myeloid DCs (mDCs) were monitored by flow cytometry. These parameters were found not to be significantly different between the vaccinated and placebo groups. Instead, independent of vaccination altered in vitro TLR responsiveness was observed in parallel with TI cycles. TLR7/8-triggered secretion of IL-12 and IFN-α, as well as TLR9-triggered secretion of IL-12, was hyperactivated. In contrast, expression of IFN-α after TLR9 stimulation decreased during the initial cycle of TI. Reduced frequencies of pDCs and mDCs, compared with baseline, were noted before and during the second TI, respectively. Furthermore, spontaneous ex vivo release of IL-12 from PBMC was noted during cycles of TI. In conclusion, these results suggest that consequences of short-term TI include dysregulated TLR responses and fluctuations in the frequencies of circulating DCs. Knowledge of these immunological factors may influence the continuation of stringent treatment schedules during HIV infections.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
There is a need for reliable markers to diagnose active and latent tuberculosis (TB). The interferon gamma release assays (IGRAs) are compared to the tuberculin skin test (TST) more specific, but cannot discriminate between recent or remote TB infection. Here the Flow-cytometric Assay for Specific Cell-mediated Immune-response in Activated whole blood (FASCIA), which quantifies expanded T-lymphoblasts by flow-cytometric analysis after long-term antigen stimulation of whole blood, is combined with cytokine/chemokine analysis in the supernatant by multiplex technology for diagnosis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection.
Methods and Findings
Consecutive patients with suspected TB (n = 85), with microbiologically verified active pulmonary TB (n = 33), extra pulmonary TB (n = 21), clinical TB (n = 11), presumed latent TB infection (LTBI) (n = 23), patients negative for TB (n = 8) and 21 healthy controls were studied. Blood samples were analyzed with FASCIA and multiplex technology to determine and correlate proliferative responses and the value of 14 cytokines for diagnosis of Mtb infection: IFN- γ, IL-2, TNF-α, IP-10, IL-12, IL-6, IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, IL-17, MIP-1β, GM-CSF, IFN-α2 and IL-10. Cytokine levels for IFN-γ, IP-10, MIP-1β, IL-2, TNF-α, IL-6, IL-10, IL-13 and GM-CSF were significantly higher after stimulation with the Mtb specific antigens ESAT-6 and CFP-10 in patients with active TB compared to healthy controls (p<0.05) and correlated with proliferative responses. IP-10 was positive in all patients with verified TB, if using a combination of ESAT-6 and CFP-10 and was the only marker significantly more sensitive in detecting active TB then IFN-γ (p = 0.012). Cytokine responses in patients with active TB were more frequent and detected at higher levels than in patients with LTBI.
IP-10 seems to be an important marker for diagnosis of active and latent TB. Patients with active TB and LTBI responded with similar cytokine profiles against TB antigens but proliferative and cytokine responses were generally higher in patients with active TB.
PLoS ONE 11/2012; 7(11):e43438. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0043438 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tuberculosis (TB) is an enduring health problem worldwide and the emerging threat of multidrug resistant (MDR) TB and extensively drug resistant (XDR) TB is of particular concern. A better understanding of biomarkers associated with TB will aid to guide the development of better targets for TB diagnosis and for the development of improved TB vaccines.
Recombinant proteins (n = 7) and peptide pools (n = 14) from M. tuberculosis (M.tb) antigens associated with M.tb pathogenicity, modification of cell lipids or cellular metabolism, were used to compare T cell immune responses defined by IFN-γ production using a whole blood assay (WBA) from i) patients with TB, ii) individuals recovered from TB and iii) individuals exposed to TB without evidence of clinical TB infection from Minsk, Belarus.
We identified differences in M.tb target peptide recognition between the test groups, i.e. a frequent recognition of antigens associated with lipid metabolism, e.g. cyclopropane fatty acyl phospholipid synthase. The pattern of peptide recognition was broader in blood from healthy individuals and those recovered from TB as compared to individuals suffering from pulmonary TB. Detection of biologically relevant M.tb targets was confirmed by staining for intracellular cytokines (IL-2, TNF-α and IFN-γ) in T cells from non-human primates (NHPs) after BCG vaccination.
PBMCs from healthy individuals and those recovered from TB recognized a broader spectrum of M.tb antigens as compared to patients with TB. The nature of the pattern recognition of a broad panel of M.tb antigens will devise better strategies to identify improved diagnostics gauging previous exposure to M.tb; it may also guide the development of improved TB-vaccines.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neither the number of HIV-1 proviruses within individual infected cells in HIV-1-infected patients nor their genetic relatedness within individual infected cells and between cells and plasma virus are well defined. To address these issues we developed a technique to quantify and genetically characterize HIV-1 DNA from single infected cells in vivo. Analysis of peripheral blood CD4(+) T cells from nine patients revealed that the majority of infected cells contain only one copy of HIV-1 DNA, implying a limited potential for recombination in virus produced by these cells. The genetic similarity between HIV populations in CD4(+) T cells and plasma implies ongoing exchange between these compartments both early and late after infection.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2011; 108(27):11199-204. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1107729108 · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is a large and growing worldwide need for reliable tests to diagnose active and latent tuberculosis (TB). Improved methodology for identifying individuals with true latent TB (LTBI), particularly those with a recent infection, would pave the way for targeted prophylactic treatment. The traditionally used tuberculin skin test (TST) is unspecific and impractical. Interferon gamma release assays (IGRA) are more specific than the TST but, like that test, cannot discriminate either between recent and remote TB infection, or between these and a mere immunological memory of previous TB infection. The Flow-cytometric Assay for Specific Cell-mediated Immune-response in Activated whole blood (FASCIA) combines long-term antigen stimulation of whole blood and flow-cytometric analysis with quantification of the expanded T-lymphoblasts and can also be employed for measurement of cytokine responses.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Short sleep duration increases the risk of several diseases, possibly involving compromised immune function. However, most previous studies are based on experimentally induced sleep deprivation, and only a few have studied natural variations in sleep duration. Thus our aim was to study how natural variations in sleep duration affect immune function. In total, 36 healthy men and women, aged 20-54, donated blood; 29 on three consecutive mornings, and seven on one morning. Each morning, participants self-reported sleep duration the night prior to blood draw. General sleep patterns, physical activity and stress were also assessed. A flow-cytometric assay was used to measure natural killer cell activity (NKCA), T cell function (in response to PHA, influenza, and SEA+B), and B cell function (in response to PWM) per volume whole blood. Short sleep duration prior to blood draw (<7 h) was associated with 49% higher PHA-induced T cell function (95% CI 7/109%) and 30% lower NKCA compared with normal prior sleep (7-9 h) (95% CI -46/-8%). In addition, high perceived stress was associated with 39% higher PHA-induced T cell function (95% CI 0/94%). High general physical activity was associated with 47% increased numbers of B cells and 28% increased numbers of T cells, but not with immune function. Our results suggest strong relationships between short sleep duration and T- and NK-cell functions. The stability of the findings as well as the clinical consequences of the link between short sleep and immune function should be explored in future studies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: IP-10 has potential as a diagnostic marker for infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, with comparable accuracy to QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube test (QFT-IT). The aims were to assess the sensitivity and specificity of IP-10, and to evaluate the impact of co-morbidity on IP-10 and QFT-IT. 168 cases with active TB, 101 healthy controls and 175 non-TB patients were included. IP-10 and IFN-γ were measured in plasma of QFT-IT stimulated whole blood and analyzed using previously determined algorithms. A subgroup of 48 patients and 70 healthy controls was tested in parallel with T-SPOT.TB IP-10 and QFT-IT had comparable accuracy. Sensitivity was 81% and 84% with a specificity of 97% and 100%, respectively. Combining IP-10 and QFT-IT improved sensitivity to 87% (p < 0.0005), with a specificity of 97%. T-SPOT.TB was more sensitive than QFT-IT, but not IP-10. Among non-TB patients IP-10 had a higher rate of positive responders (35% vs 27%, p < 0.02) and for both tests a positive response was associated with relevant risk factors. IFN-γ but not IP-10 responses to mitogen stimulation were reduced in patients with TB and non-TB infection. This study confirms and validates previous findings and adds substance to IP-10 as a novel diagnostic marker for infection with M. tuberculosis. IP-10 appeared less influenced by infections other than TB; further studies are needed to test the clinical impact of these findings.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The clinical picture of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection includes genital blisters and less frequently meningitis, and some individuals suffer from recurrent episodes of these manifestations. We hypothesized that adaptive and/or innate immune functional deficiencies may be a major contributing factor in susceptibility to recurrent HSV-2 meningitis. Ten patients with recurrent HSV-2 meningitis were studied during clinical remission. For comparison, 10 patients with recurrent genital HSV infections as well as 21 HSV-seropositive and 19 HSV-seronegative healthy blood donors were included. HSV-specific T cell blasting and cytokine secretion were evaluated in whole blood cultures. HSV-2-induced NK cell gamma interferon production, dendritic cell Toll-like receptor (TLR) expression, and TLR agonist-induced alpha interferon secretion were analyzed. Patients with recurrent HSV-2 meningitis had elevated T cell blasting and Th1 and Th2 cytokine production in response to HSV antigens compared to those of patients with recurrent genital infections. A somewhat increased NK cell response, increased dendritic cell expression of TLR3 and -9, and increased TLR-induced alpha interferon responses were also noted. Contrary to our expectation, recurrent HSV-2 meningitis patients have increased HSV-specific adaptive and innate immune responses, raising the possibility of immune-mediated pathology in the development of recurrent HSV2 meningitis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Immunotherapy in patients with HIV-1 infection aims to restore and broaden immunological competence, reduce viral load and thereby permit longer periods without combined antiretroviral treatment (cART). Twelve HIV-1-infected patients on cART were immunized on the skin with DNA plasmids containing genes of several HIV-1 subtypes with or without the addition of hydroxyurea (HU), or with placebo. The mean net gain of HIV-specific CD8+ T cell responses were higher and broader in the HIV DNA vaccine groups compared to non-vaccinated individuals (p<0.05). The vaccine-induced immune responses per se had no direct effect on viral replication. In all patients combined, including placebo, the viral set point after a final structured therapy interruption (STI) was lower than prior to initiation of cART (p=0.003). Nadir CD4 levels appeared to strongly influence the post-STI viral titers. After the sixth immunization or placebo, patients could stay off cART for a median time of 15 months. The study shows that HIV DNA immunization induces broader and higher magnitudes of HIV-specific immune responses compared to structured therapy interruptions alone. Although compromised by small numbers of patients, the study also demonstrates that well-monitored STI may safely function as an immunological read out of HIV vaccine efficacy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A better understanding of similarities and differences in the composition of the cellular immune system in non-human primates (NHPs) compared with human subjects will improve the interpretation of preclinical studies. It will also aid in addressing the usefulness of NHPs as subjects for studying chronic diseases, vaccine development and immune reconstitution. We employed high content colour flow cytometry and analysed simultaneously the expression of CD3, CD4, CD8alpha, CD8beta, CD16/CD56, CD45RA, CCR7, CD27, CD28, CD107a and the interleukin-7 receptor alpha-chain (IL-7Ralpha) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of 27 rhesus macaques and 16 healthy human subjects. Regulatory T cells (Tregs) were identified using anti-CD3, -CD4, -CD25, -FoxP3, and -IL-7Ralpha monoclonal antibodies. Responsiveness to IL-7 was gauged in a signal transducer and activation of transcription 5 (STAT-5) phosphorylation assay. Human and NHP PBMCs showed a similar T-cell composition pattern with some remarkable differences. Similarities: human and NHP CD4(+) and CD8(+) cells showed a similar STAT-5 phosphorylation pattern in response to IL-7. Multicolour flow cytometric analysis identified a CD4(+) CD8alphaalpha(+) CD8alphabeta(+) T-cell population in NHPs as well as in human subjects that expressed the degranulation marker CD107a and may represent a unique CD4(+) T-cell subset endowed with cytotoxic capacity. Differences: we identified in PBMCs from NHPs a higher proportion (5.16% in CD3(+) T cells) of CD8alphaalpha(+) T cells when compared with human donors (1.22% in CD3(+) T cells). NHP CD8alphaalpha(+) T cells produced tumour necrosis factor-alpha / interferon-gamma (TNF-alpha/IFN-gamma) or TNF-alpha, whereas human CD8alphaalpha(+) T cells produced simultaneously TNF-alpha/IFN-gamma and IL-2. A minor percentage of human CD8(+) T cells expressed CD25(bright) and FoxP3 (0.01%). In contrast, 0.07% of NHP CD8(+) T cells exhibited the CD25(bright) FoxP3(+) phenotype. PBMCs from NHPs showed less IL-7Ralpha-positive events in all T-cell subsets including CD4(+) Tregs (median 5%) as compared with human (median 12%). The data visualize commonalities and differences in immune cell subsets in humans and NHPs, most of them in long-lived memory cells and cells with suppressive functions. This provides a matrix to assess future efforts to study diseases and vaccines in NHPs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We investigated HIV-1 vaccine-induced lymphoproliferative responses in healthy volunteers immunized intradermally or intramuscularly (with or without adjuvant granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor [GM-CSF] protein) with DNA expressing HIV-1 gag, env, rev, and rt at months 0, 1, and 3 using a Biojector and boosted at 9 months with modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) expressing heterologous HIV-1 gag, env, and pol (HIV-MVA). Lymphoproliferative responses to aldrithiol-2 (AT-2)-inactivated-HIV-1 antigen were tested by a [(3)H]thymidine uptake assay and a flow-cytometric assay of specific cell-mediated immune response in activated whole blood (FASCIA-WB) 2 weeks after the HIV-MVA boost (n = 38). A FASCIA using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (FASCIA-PBMC) was also employed (n = 14). Thirty-five of 38 (92%) vaccinees were reactive by the [(3)H]thymidine uptake assay. Thirty-two of 38 (84%) vaccinees were reactive by the CD4(+) T-cell FASCIA-WB, and 7 of 38 (18%) also exhibited CD8(+) T-cell responses. There was strong correlation between the proliferative responses measured by the [(3)H]thymidine uptake assay and CD4(+) T-cell FASCIA-WB (r = 0.68; P < 0.01). Fourteen vaccinees were analyzed using all three assays. Ten of 14 (71%) and 11/14 (79%) demonstrated CD4(+) T-cell responses in FASCIA-WB and FASCIA-PBMC, respectively. CD8(+) T-cell reactivity was observed in 3/14 (21%) and 7/14 (50%) using the FASCIA-WB and FASCIA-PBMC, respectively. All 14 were reactive by the [(3)H]thymidine uptake assay. The overall HIV-specific T-cell proliferative response in the vaccinees employing any of the assays was 100% (38/38). A standardized FASCIA-PBMC, which allows simultaneous phenotyping, may be an option to the [(3)H]thymidine uptake assay for assessment of vaccine-induced T-cell proliferation, especially in isotope-restricted settings.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: With new treatments of inflammatory diseases targeting key inflammatory pathways follows an increased risk for infections. The aim of the present study was to identify an immunological readout where consecutive immunizations induce reproducible immune responses. Such a method could be used as a tool to assess drug-induced immunomodulation in individual patients by comparing responses to the immunizations before and after introduction of a specific treatment. Importantly, the vaccine is merely used as a model antigen and protective immunity is not the primary aim of the method. Eleven volunteers were immunized with influenza vaccine three times, four weeks apart. In order to find the optimal readout for the method, immune responses to the immunizations were measured as circulating antigen-specific B-cells, serum antibody titers and avidity, T-cell proliferation and cytokine secretion. The first exposure to the influenza vaccine induced a stronger B- and T-cell responses than the consecutive immunizations. The second and third immunizations induced comparable but lower B-cell responses as measured by ELISPOT. In summary, we have measured immune responsiveness by using repeated immunizations with influenza virus vaccine as the model antigen. The induction of comparable B-cell responses after the second and third serial immunizations provides a possibility to investigate effects on immune responsiveness by immunomodulatory drugs. The method also allows humoral memory and immune competence per se to be studied on a cellular level in different patient groups.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BCG vaccination, combined with adenoviral-delivered boosts, represents a reasonable strategy to augment, broaden and prolong immune protection against tuberculosis (TB). We tested BCG (SSI1331) (in 6 animals, delivered intradermally) and a recombinant (rBCG) AFRO-1 expressing perfringolysin (in 6 animals) followed by two boosts (delivered intramuscullary) with non-replicating adenovirus 35 (rAd35) expressing a fusion protein composed of Ag85A, Ag85B and TB10.4, for the capacity to induce antigen-specific cellular immune responses in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Control animals received diluent (3 animals).
Cellular immune responses were analyzed longitudinally (12 blood draws for each animal) using intracellular cytokine staining (TNF-alpha, IL-2 and IFN-gamma), T cell proliferation was measured in CD4(+), CD8alpha/beta(+), and CD8alpha/alpha(+) T cell subsets and IFN-gamma production was tested in 7 day PBMC cultures (whole blood cell assay, WBA) using Ag85A, Ag85B, TB10.4 recombinant proteins, PPD or BCG as stimuli. Animals primed with AFRO-1 showed i) increased Ag85B-specific IFN-gamma production in the WBA assay (median >400 pg/ml for 6 animals) one week after the first boost with adenoviral-delivered TB-antigens as compared to animals primed with BCG (<200 pg/ml), ii) stronger T cell proliferation in the CD8alpha/alpha(+) T cell subset (proliferative index 17%) as compared to BCG-primed animals (proliferative index 5% in CD8alpha/alpha(+) T cells). Polyfunctional T cells, defined by IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha and IL-2 production were detected in 2/6 animals primed with AFRO-1 directed against Ag85A/b and TB10.4; 4/6 animals primed with BCG showed a Ag85A/b responses, yet only a single animal exhibited Ag85A/b and TB10.4 reactivity.
AFRO-1 induces qualitatively and quantitatively different cellular immune responses as compared with BCG in rhesus macaques. Increased IFN-gamma-responses and antigen-specific T cell proliferation in the CD8alpha/alpha+ T cell subset represents a valuable marker for vaccine-take in BCG-based TB vaccine trials.
PLoS ONE 02/2008; 3(11):e3790. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0003790 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In January 2006, an after-school carer in Stockholm was diagnosed with open pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) after having been symptomatic for 3 months. The aim of this paper is to illustrate the difficulties encountered in estimating recent transmission of TB among children in an immigrant school population. A tuberculin skin test was performed on 261 pupils aged 6-15 y and an additional interferon-gamma release assay was performed on 20 children. In total, 76% of the children were born in Sweden; however, 95% of the parents originated from countries with TB incidence >25/100,000. Three active TB cases were identified, 1 of whom was culture-positive with the same strain as the index case. Latent tuberculous infection (LTBI) was diagnosed in 35 children. However, the increased risk of earlier infection in this population makes it difficult to evaluate when transmission occurred. The magnitude of recent transmission from the index case will thus be uncertain and indications to treat less clear.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cytokine profile assessment is important to characterize immune responses to pathogens. To identify optimal time points for determination of cytokine profiles, we diluted whole blood 1:10, to enable daily cytokine measurements during one week. Cultures for 10 blood donors were set up in the presence of phytohemagglutinin (PHA), cytomegalovirus (CMV) or Candida. Supernatant levels of interleukin-2 (IL-2), IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-10, IL-12, IL-13, IL-17, interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), were determined by multiplex technique, and intracellular cytokine staining (ICS) was employed to detect IFN-gamma, IL-2, IL-4 and IL-13 in CD3+ cells. The multiplex analysis detected representative cytokine profiles for the majority of the cytokines on day 7 by identifying peak levels or good correlation with peak levels, with the exception of IL-2 and TNF-alpha in PHA and CMV cultures and IL-10 in PHA cultures. For these cytokines an extracellular measurement on day 2-3 would be appropriate. The intracellular cytokines showed distinct kinetics for IFN-gamma and IL-2, while IL-4 and IL-13 were not detected at all with ICS. In conclusion, the combination of whole blood cultures with multiplex analysis is a simple and powerful tool that can be used to identify detailed cytokine profiles of specific cell-mediated immune responses.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Assessment of CD8(+) T-cell activity is of significant importance for the evaluation of cellular immune responses to viral infections, especially in HIV. We present a new assay for the assessment of HIV-specific cytotoxicity by multiparameter flow cytometry.
Target cells, pulsed with peptide pools (Gag or Nef), were stained with 5- (and -6)-carboxyfluorescein diacetate succinimidyl ester (CFSE), cultured with specific or nonspecific effector cells, and finally stained with propidium iodide (PI). Determination of cytolysis is based on the enumeration of viable target cells (CFSE(hi)PI(-)) in the test sample (target and specific effector cells) as compared with that of the viable target cells in the control sample (target and nonspecific effector cells). The (51)Cr-release assay and IFN-gamma ELISpot were performed by standard procedures.
A comparison with the Cr-release showed that the two assays were strongly correlated (r = 0.67; P < 0.001) but the sensitivity of the flow cytometric assay was significantly higher (P < 0.05), and the reproducibility good (CV, 7.7%). Good correlation was also found with the ELISpot assay (r = 0.66; P < 0.01).
This new assay provides both specific and sensitive results when employed for the detection of HIV-specific CTL and can be a valuable tool for the evaluation of cytolytic activity in vaccine trials or in HIV-infected subjects, especially if such responses are present at low levels.
Cytometry Part A 12/2005; 68(2):71-80. DOI:10.1002/cyto.a.20189 · 3.07 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The assessment of cytokine production is an important component of studies of cell-mediated immune responses (CMI) to immunological challenges. In this study, we present a method to enhance the detection of cytokine-producing cells by allowing antigen-specific cells to expand in long-term culture. We investigated the influence of the degree of dilution of whole blood and the duration of the incubation period on whole blood as well as peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), cultured in the absence or presence of mitogens, superantigens or specific antigens, for intracellular cytokine production (IFNgamma, TNFalpha, IL-2, IL-4, IL-10 and IL-13) by CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes using four-colour flow cytometry. Whole blood was diluted 1/1, 1/2, 1/5 and 1/10, and cultured for 6, 24, 48, 72 and 120 h in the presence of antibodies against the co-stimulatory molecules CD28 and CD49d, and, during the last 4 h of culture, in the presence of brefeldin A. Optimum conditions for detection of a high number of IFNgamma-positive cells were observed after 72 h of culture in blood diluted 1/10. Median frequencies of IFNgamma+ cells obtained after activation by PMA-ionomycin, PHA or SEA-B were 29.3%, 20.0% and 6.8% for CD4+ cells, and 67.8%, 20.6% and 6.8% for CD8+ cells. In blood samples diluted 1/5 or 1/10, and cultured in the presence of cytomegalovirus (CMV) or varicella-zoster virus (VZV), mean peak levels of 2.8% and 1.4% IFNgamma+CD4+ cells were recorded at 120 h. The levels of cells producing cytokines other than IFNgamma were generally much lower and, in the case of IL-4 and IL-13, difficult to distinguish from background levels recorded in cultures with medium only. Kinetic studies of cytokine production by PBMCs showed a pattern similar to that of whole blood with peak levels of IFNgamma-producing cells recorded at 72 h. The increased levels of IFNgamma production after culture for 72 h were due to an expansion of the numbers of cytokine-producing cells responsive to a specific stimulus. Antigen-specific cells are usually present only at low levels in peripheral blood and may not be detected following simple activation for a few hours. To reach a level of detection in such cases, culture of diluted blood for several days is recommended.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A new assay for the detection of specific cell-mediated immune (CMI) responses is described. Whole blood, diluted 1/10 in medium, was cultured in the presence or the absence of specific antigens. Results were assessed by flow cytometric analysis with or without immunophenotyping to detect proliferating lymphoblasts among cultured cells. Interferon-gamma, IL-10, and IL-5 in culture supernatants are measured by ELISAs. The assay was evaluated using samples from 37 VZV-antibody-positive children with a history of chickenpox and samples from 15 seronegative children without a history of chickenpox; it displayed a sensitivity of 95% and a specificity of 100% for the detection of varicella-zoster virus (VZV)-specific CMI. The intraassay and interassay variations of the new test were lower than with the conventional assay for CMI, detecting thymidine incorporation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Cytokines were detected in only 70% of cultures from VZV-antibody-positive subjects. The cytokine response was restricted to IFN-gamma in most cases. The Flow-cytometric Assay of Specific Cell-mediated Immune response in Activated whole blood (FASCIA) is a precise and accurate yet simple and convenient test that can be readily employed for the examination of single samples as well as for large-scale studies.