PLoS ONE (Jan 2019)

Targeted in-vitro-stimulation reveals highly proliferative multi-virus-specific human central memory T cells as candidates for prophylactic T cell therapy.

  • Benjamin Faist,
  • Fabian Schlott,
  • Christian Stemberger,
  • Kevin M Dennehy,
  • Angela Krackhardt,
  • Mareike Verbeek,
  • Götz U Grigoleit,
  • Matthias Schiemann,
  • Dieter Hoffmann,
  • Andrea Dick,
  • Klaus Martin,
  • Martin Hildebrandt,
  • Dirk H Busch,
  • Michael Neuenhahn

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 14, no. 9
p. e0223258


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Adoptive T cell therapy (ACT) has become a treatment option for viral reactivations in patients undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (alloHSCT). Animal models have shown that pathogen-specific central memory T cells (TCM) are protective even at low numbers and show long-term survival, extensive proliferation and high plasticity after adoptive transfer. Concomitantly, our own recent clinical data demonstrate that minimal doses of purified (not in-vitro- expanded) human CMV epitope-specific T cells can be sufficient to clear viremia. However, it remains to be determined if human virus-specific TCM show the same promising features for ACT as their murine counterparts. Using a peptide specific proliferation assay (PSPA) we studied the human Adenovirus- (AdV), Cytomegalovirus- (CMV) and Epstein-Barr virus- (EBV) specific TCM repertoires and determined their functional and proliferative capacities in vitro. TCM products were generated from buffy coats, as well as from non-mobilized and mobilized apheresis products either by flow cytometry-based cell sorting or magnetic cell enrichment using reversible Fab-Streptamers. Adjusted to virus serology and human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-typing, donor samples were analyzed with MHC multimer- and intracellular cytokine staining (ICS) before and after PSPA. TCM cultures showed strong proliferation of a plethora of functional virus-specific T cells. Using PSPA, we could unveil tiniest virus epitope-specific TCM populations, which had remained undetectable in conventional ex-vivo-staining. Furthermore, we could confirm these characteristics for mobilized apheresis- and GMP-grade Fab-Streptamer-purified TCM products. Consequently, we conclude that TCM bare high potential for prophylactic low-dose ACT. In addition, use of Fab-Streptamer-purified TCM allows circumventing regulatory restrictions typically found in conventional ACT product generation. These GMP-compatible TCM can now be used as a broad-spectrum antiviral T cell prophylaxis in alloHSCT patients and PSPA is going to be an indispensable tool for advanced TCM characterization during concomitant immune monitoring.