Enhanced and efficient detection of virus-driven cytokine expression by human NK and T cells.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of virological methods, Volume 199C, p.17-24 (2014)


2014, February 2014, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division


Cutting edge immune monitoring techniques increasingly measure multiple functional outputs for various cell types, such as intracellular cytokine staining (ICS) assays that measure cytokines expressed by T cells. To date, however, there is no precise method to measure virus-specific cytokine production by both T cells as well as NK cells in the same well, which is important to a greater extent given recent identification of NK cells expressing a memory phenotype. This study describes an adaptable and efficient ICS assay platform that can be used to detect antigen-driven cytokine production by human T cells and NK cells, termed "viral ICS". Importantly, this assay uses limited amount of cryopreserved PBMCs along with autologous heat-inactivated serum, thereby allowing for this assay to be performed when sample is scarce as well as geographically distant from the laboratory. Compared to a standard ICS assay that detects antigen-specific T cell cytokine expression alone, the viral ICS assay is comparable in terms of both HIV-specific CD4 and CD8T cell cytokine response rates and magnitude of response, with the added advantage of ability to detect virus-specific NK cell responses.