, Volume 59, Issue 2, pp 195-202
Date: 22 Oct 2009

Multimer technologies for detection and adoptive transfer of antigen-specific T cells

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Identification and purification of antigen-specific T cells without altering their functional status are of high scientific and clinical interest. Staining with major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-peptide multimers constitutes a very powerful method to study antigen-specific T-cell subpopulations, allowing their direct visualization and quantification. MHC-peptide multimers, such as dimers, tetramers, pentamers, streptamers, dextramers and octamers have been used to evaluate the frequency of CD8+ T cells, specific for tumor/leukemia-associated antigens as well as for viral antigens, e.g., CMVpp65 and EBV-EBNA. Moreover, MHC-peptide multimers have been used for rapid and efficient ex vivo isolation and expansion of T cells. A recent development in the field of MHC-peptide multimers led to the purification of CD8+ T cells specific for leukemia antigens. This might help to select leukemia-specific donor lymphocyte infusions (DLIs), thus allowing dissection of the noxious graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) from beneficial anti-viral and even anti-leukemic effects. This review covers different types of MHC-peptide multimers and their applications, as well as the impact that multimers might have on further development of DLIs.