In the present paper, an in vitro model was established in which the interaction between influenza virus-specific CD8+ T cells and human airway epithelial cells can be studied. To this end, the human lung epithelial cell line A549 was transduced with the HLA-A*0201 gene. This MHC class I allele is involved in the presentation of the immunodominant M158-66 cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitope of the influenza A virus matrix protein. The A549-HLA-A2 cells and a CD8+ T cell clone specific for the M1 58-66 epitope were used to evaluate ISCOMATRIX® (IMX), which is considered a potential mucosal adjuvant for influenza vaccines, for its capacity to activate virus-specific CTL after incubation with epithelial cells. It was found that virus infected epithelial cells activated virus-specific CTL efficiently. However, incubation of epithelial cells with ISCOMATRIX® and recombinant M1 protein activated CD8+ T cells inefficiently, unlike the incubation of C1R cells expressing a HLA-A2 trans gene or HLA-A2+ B-lymphoblastoid cells with these reagents. It was concluded that this lack of antigen presentation by epithelial cells indicate that these cells are not subject to killing by virus-specific CTL upon instillation with ISCOMATRIX®-based vaccines, which may be a favorable property of mucosal vaccines.

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Department of Virology

Rimmelzwaan, G., Boon, A., Geelhoed-Mieras, M., Voeten, J. T. M., Fouchier, R., & Osterhaus, A. (2004). Human airway epithelial cells present antigen to influenza virus-specific CD8+ CTL inefficiently after incubation with viral protein together with ISCOMATRIX®. Vaccine, 22(21-22), 2769–2775. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2004.01.052