CD4+ T cell epitope discovery and rational vaccine design

Arch Immunol Ther Exp (Warsz). 2010 Apr;58(2):121-30. doi: 10.1007/s00005-010-0067-0. Epub 2010 Feb 14.


T cell epitope-driven vaccine design employs bioinformatic algorithms to identify potential targets of vaccines against infectious diseases or cancer. Potential epitopes can be identified with major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-binding algorithms, and the ability to bind to MHC class I or class II indicates a predominantly CD4(+) or CD8(+) T cell response. Furthermore, an epitope-based vaccine can circumvent evolutionary events favoring immune escape present in native proteins from pathogens. It can also focus on only the most relevant epitopes (i.e. conserved and promiscuous) recognized by the majority of the target population. Mounting evidence points to the critical role of CD4(+) T cells in natural antigen encounter and active immunization. In this paper the need for CD4(+) T cell help in vaccine development, the selection of CD4(+) T cell epitopes for an epitope-based vaccine, and how the approach can be used to induce a protective effect are reviewed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Computational Biology
  • Data Mining
  • Drug Design*
  • Epitope Mapping
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Humans
  • Immune Evasion
  • Immunodominant Epitopes / immunology
  • Vaccines / immunology*


  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • Immunodominant Epitopes
  • Vaccines