Multispecific Aspergillus T cells selected by CD137 or CD154 induce protective immune responses against the most relevant mold infections

J Infect Dis. 2015 Apr 15;211(8):1251-61. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiu607. Epub 2014 Nov 2.


Background: Aspergillus and Mucorales species cause severe infections in patients after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Induction of antifungal CD4(+) T-helper type 1 (Th1) immunity is an appealing strategy to combat these infections. Immunotherapeutic approaches are so far limited because of a lack of antigens inducing protective T cells, their elaborate production, and the need of targeting a broad spectrum of pathogenic fungi.

Methods: We examined the response to different Aspergillus fumigatus proteins in healthy individuals and patients after HSCT and compared rapid selection protocols for fungus-specific T cells based on CD137 or CD154 expression.

Results: The A. fumigatus proteins Crf1, Gel1, and Pmp20 induced strong Th1 responses in healthy individuals. T cells specific for these antigens expanded in patients with active invasive aspergillosis, indicating their contribution to infection control. Th1 cells specific for the 3 proteins can be selected with similar specificity within 24 hours, based on CD137 or CD154 expression. These cells recognize naturally processed A. fumigatus and the multispecific T-cell lines, directed against all 3 proteins, especially those selected by CD154, additionally cross-react to different Aspergillus and Mucorales species.

Conclusions: These findings may form the basis for adoptive T-cell transfer for prophylaxis or treatment in patients with these devastating infections.

Keywords: Aspergillus; CD137 and CD154 expression; T-cell therapy; fungal infection; multispecific T cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, Fungal / immunology*
  • Aspergillosis / immunology*
  • Aspergillosis / microbiology
  • Aspergillus fumigatus / immunology*
  • CD40 Ligand / immunology*
  • Female
  • Fungal Proteins / immunology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / methods
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Th1 Cells / immunology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 9 / immunology*


  • Antigens, Fungal
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 9
  • CD40 Ligand