Ex vivo detection of adenovirus specific CD4+ T-cell responses to HLA-DR-epitopes of the Hexon protein show a contracted specificity of T(HELPER) cells following stem cell transplantation

Virology. 2010 Feb 20;397(2):277-84. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2009.10.049. Epub 2009 Dec 3.


Human adenovirus (HAdV) is a cause of significant morbidity and mortality in immunocompromised patients, especially after stem cell transplantation (SCT). Viral clearance has been attributed to CD4(+) T-cell responses against the Hexon-protein, but the frequency of specific T(HELPER) cells is extremely low or not detectable ex vivo and preference for different CD4(+) T-cell epitopes is variable among individuals. We therefore analyzed 44 healthy donors and 6 SCT-recipients for Hexon-specific CD4(+)-responses ex vivo, to identify epitopes which would be broadly applicable. We selected 19 candidate epitopes with predicted restriction to HLA-DR1/DR3/DR4/DR7; 16 were located within the highly conserved regions, indicating cross-reactivity of T cells among HAdV-subspecies. Ten epitopes induced CD4(+)-proliferation in >50% of individuals, confirmed by intracellular IFN-gamma detection. Three SCT recipients who recovered from an infection with HAdV displayed reactivity towards only a single hexon epitope, whereas healthy individuals were responsive to two to eight epitopes (median 3). The ex vivo detection of Hexon-specific CD4(+) T-cells, without any long-term culture in vitro, enables the detection and generation of HAdV-specific CD4(+) T cells for adoptive T-cell transfer against HAdV-infection post SCT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviruses, Human / immunology*
  • Adolescent
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Capsid Proteins / immunology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Child
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology*
  • HLA-DR Antigens / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology


  • Capsid Proteins
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • HLA-DR Antigens
  • hexon capsid protein, Adenovirus
  • Interferon-gamma