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Linnerbauer, Stefanie; Behrends, Uta; Adhikary, Dinesh; Witter, Klaus; Bornkamm, Georg W. and Mautner, Josef (2014): Virus and Autoantigen-Specific CD4+ T Cells Are Key Effectors in a SCID Mouse Model of EBV-Associated Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorders.
In: PLOS Pathogens 10(5), e1004068 [PDF, 5MB]

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Polyclonal Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-infected B cell line (lymphoblastoid cell lines;LCL)-stimulated T-cell preparations have been successfully used to treat EBV-positive post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders (PTLD) in transplant recipients, but function and specificity of the CD4+ component are still poorly defined. Here, we assessed the tumor-protective potential of different CD4+ T-cell specificities in a PTLD-SCID mouse model. Injection of different virus-specific CD4+ T-cell clones showed that single specificities were capable of prolonging mouse survival and that the degree of tumor protection directly correlated with recognition of target cells in vitro. Surprisingly, some CD4+ T-cell clones promoted tumor development, suggesting that besides antigen recognition, still elusive functional differences exist among virus-specific T cells. Of several EBV-specific CD4+ T-cell clones tested, those directed against virion antigens proved most tumor-protective. However, enriching these specificities in LCL-stimulated preparations conferred no additional survival benefit. Instead, CD4+ T cells specific for unknown, probably self-antigens were identified as principal antitumoral effectors in LCL-stimulated T-cell lines. These results indicate that virion and still unidentified cellular antigens are crucial targets of the CD4+ T-cell response in this preclinical PTLD-model and that enriching the corresponding T-cell specificities in therapeutic preparations may enhance their clinical efficacy. Moreover, the expression in several EBV-negative B-cell lymphoma cell lines implies that these putative autoantigen(s) might also qualify as targets for T-cell-based immunotherapy of virus-negative B cell malignancies.

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