Human T-cell alloreactivity plays an important role in many disease processes, including the rejection of solid organ grafts and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) following allogeneic stem cell transplantation. To develop a better understanding of the T cells involved in alloreactivity in humans, we developed a cytokine flow cytometry (CFC) assay that enabled us to characterize the phenotypic and functional characteristic of T cells responding to allogeneic stimuli. Using this approach, we determined that most T-cell alloreactivity resided within the CD4+ T-cell subset, as assessed by activation marker expression and the production of effector cytokines (eg, tumor necrosis factor α[TMF]α) implicated in human GVHD. Following prolonged stimulation in vitro using either allogeneic stimulator cells or viral antigens, we found that coexpression of activation markers within the CD4+ T-cell subset occurred exclusively within a subpopulation of T cells that significantly increased their surface expression of CD4. We then developed a simple sorting strategy that exploited these phenotypic characteristics to specifically deplete alloreactive T cells while retaining broad specificity for other stimuli, including viral antigens and third-party alloantigens. This approach also was applied to specifically enrich or deplete human virus-specific T cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology