The need for an HSV-2 vaccine is great considering the increasing prevalence of HSV-2 despite the widespread use of antiviral drugs. Human clinical trials of HSV-2 vaccines that elicit neutralizing antibodies have proven to be only partially effective suggesting that induction of effective T cell responses to HSV-2 is also a critical component to an efficacious vaccine. A sensitive and specific assay to measure HSV-specific T cell responses is a necessary part of vaccine development and thus we undertook the development of an interferon-γ (IFN-γ) ELISPOT assay to measure T cell responses to HSV-2.
PBMC from HSV-seronegative (HSVneg) (n=35), HSV-1-seropositive (HSV-1+/2-) (n=20) and HSV-2-seropositive (HSV-2+) subjects (n=26) were screened by IFN-γ ELISPOT for T cell responses using 34 peptide pools representing 16 HSV-2 proteins including mostly virion and immediate-early (IE) proteins.
Overall, 85% of HSV-2+ subjects had a positive response to the HSV-2 peptide pools and on average, HSV-2+ subjects responded to 3 peptide pools (range 1-10). The most frequent responses were to gD-2, UL39, UL46, ICP0, UL49, gB-2, and ICP4. In contrast, only 2 of 35 (6%) HSVneg subjects had detectable T cell responses and in both cases, responses were of low magnitude relative to responses in HSV-2+ subjects and were directed at a single peptide pool. The response rate to the HSV-2 peptide pools in HSV-1+/2- subjects was 40% suggesting that the HSV-2 peptide pools contain a significant number of type-common T cell epitopes. The IFN-γ ELISPOT assay detected CD4 and CD8 T cells directed at HSV-2 peptides as confirmed by intracellular cytokine staining and flow cytometry.
We have developed a quantitative IFN-γ ELISPOT assay that detects both CD4 and CD8 T cells to HSV-2 peptides. This assay does not require large quantities of PBMC to generate dendritic cells for T cell stimulation, making it an ideal assay for monitoring the immunogenicity of candidate HSV-2 vaccines designed to elicit T cell responses to HSV-2 specific epitopes.
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"While PBMC are generally thawed by placing cryovials in 37 °C water baths, presently there is no consensus protocol specifying whether the washing medium should be added when the last ice crystals are visible or whether the cells should be warmed first to 37 °C, and if so, how long they can stay at 37 °C. Protocols also differ in the temperature of the washing medium used (warm vs. cold) and the speed at which the washing medium is added [1,13]; alternatively, some studies do not specify these details [14,15]. Cox and coworkers document significant variation in viability of identical PBMC samples when 11 independent laboratories were allowed to follow their own standard operating procedures (SOP) for PBMC thawing ; specifically, the study observed a median viability of 86% with a wide range (24.8% to 100%). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) constitute an important component of immune monitoring studies as they allow for efficient batch- testing of samples as well as for the validation and extension of original studies in the future. In this study, we systematically test the permutations of PBMC thawing practices commonly employed in the field and identify conditions that are high and low risk for the viability of PBMC and their functionality in downstream ELISPOT assays. The study identifies the addition of ice-chilled washing media to thawed cells at the same temperature as being a high risk practice, as it yields significantly lower viability and functionality of recovered PBMC when compared to warming the cryovials to 37 °C and adding a warm washing medium. We found thawed PBMC in cryovials could be kept up to 30 minutes at 37 °C in the presence of DMSO before commencement of washing, which surprisingly identifies exposure to DMSO as a low risk step during the thawing process. This latter finding is of considerable practical relevance since it permits batch-thawing of PBMC in high-throughput immune monitoring environments.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Herpes virus infections are chronic and co-exist with acquired immune responses that generally prevent severe damage to the host, while allowing periodic shedding of virus and maintenance of its transmission in the community. Herpes simplex viruses type 1 and 2 (HSV-1, HSV-2) are typical in this regard and are representative of the viral subfamily Alphaherpesvirinae, which has a tropism for neuronal and epithelial cells. This review will emphasize recent progress in decoding the physiologically important CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cell responses to HSV in humans. The expanding data set is discussed in the context of the search for an effective HSV vaccine as therapy for existing infections and to prevent new infections.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract]ABSTRACT: Human influenza is a contagious respiratory disease resulting in substantial morbidity and mortality worldwide. With the recent cases of avian influenza infections in humans and the heightened concern for an influenza pandemic arising from these infections, it is essential to understand host responses that would confer protective immunity to influenza. The cell-mediated immune responses to influenza virus play an important role during influenza infection.
To analyze the specificity and diversity of memory T-cell responses, we performed a genome-wide screening of T cell epitopes to influenza A virus in healthy adult donors. We identified a total of 83 peptides, 54 of them novel, to which specific T cells were detectable in interferon-(IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot assays (ELISPOT) using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from four healthy adult donors. We found that among 11 influenza viral proteins, hemagglutinin (HA) and matrix protein 1 (M1) had more T-cell epitopes than other viral proteins. The donors were not previously exposed to H5N1 subtype, but we detected H5 HA T cell responses in two of the four donors. To confirm that HA is a major target of T cell responses we also analyzed H1 and H3 HA-specific T-cell responses using PBMC of additional 30 adult donors. Fifteen out of thirty donors gave a positive response to H3 HA peptides, whereas five of thirty donors gave a positive response to H1 HA peptides.
Because we detected T cell responses to the H5 HA peptides in donors without prior exposure to H5N1 subtype, we asked if cross-reactive T cells to H5 HA peptides can be attributed to a prior exposure to H2N2 subtype, the closest HA to the H5 based on their phylogeny. We compared younger donors who have no prior exposure to H2N2 subtype and older donors who were likely to be exposed to H2N2 subtype, and both groups responded H2N2 peptides at similar level, suggesting that memory T cells cross-reactive to H5 HA peptides can be generated by prior exposure to the H1N1 and H3N2 subtypes, and the exposure to H2N2 subtype is not necessary. We subsequently identified a CD4+ T cell epitope that lies in the fusion peptide of the HA. This epitope is well conserved in all 16 subtypes of HA of influenza A and the HA of the influenza B virus. A CD4+ T cell line specific to this epitope recognizes target cells infected with various influenza A viruses including seasonal H1N1 and H3N2, a reassortant H2N1, the 2009 pandemic H1N1, H5N1 and influenza B virus in cytotoxicity assays and intracellular cytokine staining assays. Individuals who have the HLA-DRB1*09 allele have ex vivo IFN-γ responses to this epitope peptide in ELISPOT. Although natural infection or standard vaccination may not induce strong T and B cell responses to this very conserved epitope in the fusion peptide, it may be possible to develop a vaccination strategy to induce these CD4+ T cells which are cross-reactive to both influenza A and B viruses.