Establishing CD8(+) T cell cultures has been empirical and the published methods have been largely individual laboratory based. In this study, we optimized culturing conditions and show that IL-2 concentration is the most critical factor for the success of establishing CD8(+) T cell cultures. High IL-2 concentration encouraged T cells to non-specifically proliferate, express a B cell marker, B220, and undergo apoptosis. These cells also lose typical irregular T cell morphology and are incapable of sustaining long-term cultures. Using tetramer and intracellular cytokine assessments, we further demonstrated that many antigen-specific T cells have been rendered nonfunctional when expanded under high IL-2 concentration. When IL-2 is used in the correct range, B220-mediated cell depletion greatly enhanced the success rate of such T cell cultures.
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