Detection of antigen-specific T cell cytokine expression in whole blood by flow cytometry

Maria A. Suni, Louis J. Picker, Vernon C. Maino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

259 Scopus citations


We have recently described a highly sensitive flow cytometric technique, based on the ability to detect single cell expression of cytokines, to simultaneously quantitate and phenotypically characterize antigen-specific memory/effector T cells in PBMC cultures. In this report, we describe a simplified procedural modification which enables the rapid detection of low frequency memory CD4+ and CD8+ T cells expressing cytokines in response to soluble antigen in whole blood. When compared with T cell responses in PBMC cultures, whole blood cultures demonstrated similar but slightly higher percentages of T cells responsive to specific antigen. In addition, T cell responses to cytomegalovirus in whole blood were observed only in sensitized (seropositive) individuals, and CD4 + T cell responses could be blocked by anti-class II MHC antibodies. This procedure may provide a means to examine direct effects of pharmacological drug concentrations on T cell immunity in clinical samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-98
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immunological Methods
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Antigen-specific activation
  • Cytokine production
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Flow cytometry
  • Whole blood activation assay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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