Here we describe a flowcytometric assay that measures the defining function of virusspecific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL), i.e., killing viral protein expressing cells. The fluorescent antigen-transfected target cell (FATT)-CTL assay requires no viruses, recombinant viral vectors, or radioactive isotopes to generate CTL target cells that present naturally processed epitopes. It facilitates developing standardized applications in clinical trial settings. Plasmid vectors encoding antigen-green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusion proteins were used directly to nucleofect immortalized B cells or peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Elimination of antigen-GFP expressing cells by cloned CTL, in vitro sensitized PBMC, or ex vivo PBMC was quantified following a 4-18-h coculture period by flowcytometry. This technology successfully detected cellmediated cytotoxicity in studies involving human PBMC and various viral antigens, including structural proteins of influenza A virus, and structural and nonstructural HIV proteins. Standardized protocols are currently being developed in the framework of a clinical immunotherapy trial in HIV-infected individuals. The FATT-CTL assay principles facilitate standardized flowcytometric detection of antigenic protein-specific cell-mediated cytotoxicity in many different basic research and clinical trial settings. By measuring their defining function, the FATT-CTL assay contributes to a more complete assessment of antigen-specific CTL responses to infection and vaccination.

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Cytometry. Part A
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Baalen, C., Gruters, R., Berkhoff, E., Osterhaus, A., & Rimmelzwaan, G. (2008). FATT-CTL assay for detection of antigen-specific cell-mediated cytotoxicity. Cytometry. Part A (Vol. 73, pp. 1058–1065). doi:10.1002/cyto.a.20613