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Dominant Epstein–Barr virus-specific T-cell responses are maintained during moderate and intense immunosuppressive treatment
  1. Thomas Daikeler1,
  2. Gideon Hoenger2,
  3. Ineke Oehri2,
  4. Alan Tyndall1,
  5. Alois Gratwohl3,
  6. Christian Brander4,
  7. Thomas Klimkait5,
  8. Olivier Gasser2,
  9. Christoph Hess2,6
  1. 1Department of Rheumatology, University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  2. 2Immunobiology Laboratory, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  3. 3Division of Hematology, University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  4. 4Irsicaixa AIDS Research Institute, Hospital Germans Trias I Pujol, Badalona, Barcelona, Spain
  5. 5Institute for Medical Microbiology, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  6. 6Medical Outpatient Department, University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Thomas Daikeler, Department of Rheumatology, University Hospital Basel, Petersgraben 4, CH-4031 Basel, Switzerland; tdaikeler{at}

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CD8 T cells mediate antiviral immunity but are also implicated in autoimmunity.1,,2 Responses elicited by immunogenic peptides target only a minute fraction of all potential peptide determinants, a phenomenon termed immunodominance.34 Immunodominance can be readily assessed for CD8 T-cell responses targeting Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), a herpes family virus that establishes life-long persistent infection in over 90% of the adult population.5 Here we hypothesised that, largely independent of an individual's medical condition, immunosuppression is inefficient at shifting established immunodominance. To test this hypothesis, we quantitatively assessed CD8 T-cell responses targeting defined EBV-derived peptides in individuals with differing medical histories exposed to immunosuppressive regimens of variable intensity.

The frequency of interferon γ-secreting T cells specific for any of 91 defined EBV-derived major histocompatibility complex I epitopes, optimally restricted by a wide range of human leucocyte antigen class I alleles, was quantified by enzyme-linked immunospot assays (ELISpot).6 In …

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  • Funding TD is supported by the FAG (‘Freiwillige Akademische Gesellschaft’) of Basel and by an EULAR bursary, CH by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) (PP00B-114850).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Ethik Komission beider Basel.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.