Comparison of Proliferation and Rapid Cytokine Induction Assays for Flow Cytometric T-Cell Epitope Mapping

Lydia Tesfa, Hans Dieter Volk, Florian Kern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: T-cell epitope mapping by flow cytometry based on rapid ex vivo peptide-specific cytokine induction in T cells is very efficient and time saving compared with traditional assays. We investigated whether the same epitopes could be identified by proliferation studies. Methods: An assay based on rapid interferon-γ induction in T cells (6 h of ex vivo stimulation) was run in parallel with a proliferation assay based on the incremental loss of carboxy-fluorescein diacetate succinimidyl ester staining in proliferating cells. The proliferation assay was chosen because it can be evaluated by high-resolution modern multiparameter flow cytometry. In both cases, T cells were stimulated with the same cytomegalovirus-derived peptides. The peptides identified by the rapid induction of interferon-γ were compared with those inducing T-cell proliferation. Results: Most epitopes were identified by proliferation and rapid cytokine induction methods; however, each method also identified epitopes that the other one did not. In general, rapid cytokine induction was associated with considerably less background noise, making epitope identification easier, and, owing to the short stimulation time necessary, several identification steps could be carried out on material stored in the incubator. Conclusions: Even though most epitopes were identified by both approaches, the rapid cytokine induction method had major logistic advantages, However, it may be best to use both assays, particularly in situations in which the identification of epitopes may depend on prior clonal T-cell expansion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-45
Number of pages10
JournalCytometry Part A
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Carboxy-fluorescein diacetate succinimidyl ester
  • Epitope mapping
  • Flow cytometry
  • Prolifertion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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