Use of CD137 to study the full repertoire of CD8+ T cells without the need to know epitope specificities

Cytometry A. 2008 Nov;73(11):1043-9. doi: 10.1002/cyto.a.20594.


CD137 (4-1BB) is a member of the TNFR-family with costimulatory function, triggering prosurvival signals in activated T-cells. Upregulation of CD137 upon stimulation allows identifying and isolating live, human antigen-specific CD8+ T-cells of all phenotypes, and therefore provides a comprehensive detection method. Furthermore responses against antigen mixtures can be easily detected, enabling antigen discovery in a stepwise deconvoluting approach. In this article, we will discuss various aspects of this methodology, including potential pitfalls as well as a variety of applications, as illustrated by examples from our laboratory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Epitopes / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Lymphocyte Depletion
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 9 / immunology*


  • Epitopes
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 9
  • Interferon-gamma