Induction of Antiviral Cytotoxic T Cells by Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells for Adoptive Immunotherapy of Posttransplant Diseases

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Virus–associated hematologic malignancies (EBV lymphoproliferative disease) and opportunistic infections (CMV) represent a major cause of hematopoietic stem cell and solid organ transplantation failure. Adoptive transfer of antigen–specific T lymphocytes appears to be a major and successful immunotherapeutic strategy, but improvements are needed to reliably produce high numbers of virus–specific T cells with appropriate requirements for adoptive immunotherapy that would allow extensive clinical use. Since plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) are crucial in launching antiviral responses, we investigated their capacity to elicit functional antiviral T–cell responses for adoptive cellular immunotherapy using a unique pDC line and antigens derived from Influenza, CMV and EBV viruses. Stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from HLA–A*0201+ donors by HLA–A0201 matched pDCs pulsed with viral–derived peptides triggered high levels of multi–specific and functional cytotoxic T–cell responses (up to 99% tetramer+ CD8 T cells)in vitro. Furthermore, the central/effector memory cytotoxic T cells elicited by the pDCs strongly display antiviral activity upon adoptive transfer into a humanized mouse model that mimics a virus–induced malignancy. We provide a simple and potent method to generate virus–specific CTL with the required properties for adoptive cellular immunotherapy of post–transplant diseases.

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