Application of the Granzyme B ELISPOT Assay for Monitoring Cancer Vaccine Trials

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Granzyme B (GrB) is present in the granules of cytolytic lymphocytes and is a key mediator of cell-mediated target cell death via the granule-mediated pathway. The release of GrB can be used as an indicator of a cytotoxic T lymphocyte response. Herein, we report that the GrB enzyme-linked immunospot assay (ELISPOT) can be used to measure ex vivo antigen-specific cytotoxicity of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from cancer patients vaccinated with a peptide-based cancer vaccine. We compare the reactivity of patients’ peripheral blood mononuclear cells in the GrB ELISPOT with reactivity in the tetramer, interferon (IFN)-γ ELISPOT, and 51Cr-release assays. Differences in immune response over all assays tested were found between patients and 4 response patterns were observed. Reactivity in the GrB ELISPOT was more closely associated with cytotoxicity in the 51Cr-release assay than the tetramer or IFN-γ ELISPOT assays. Moreover, the higher affinity g209-2M peptide (used for vaccination) elicited greater GrB secretion than the native g209 peptide, although this difference was not observed with IFN-γ secretion. Taken together with the fact that GrB is a specific mediator released by cytotoxic T lymphocytes, these results show that simultaneous use of the GrB ELISPOT assay with other immunologic assays may provide important additional immunologic insight into patient responses to cancer vaccines.

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