Testing of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) for immune monitoring purposes requires verification of their functionality. This is of particular concern when the PBMC have been shipped or stored for prolonged periods of time. While the CEF (Cytomegalo-, Epstein-Barr and Flu-virus) peptide pool has become the gold standard for testing CD8 cell functionality, a positive control for CD4 cells is so far lacking. The latter ideally consists of proteins so as to control for the functionality of the antigen processing and presentation compartments, as well. Aiming to generate a positive control for CD4 cells, we first selected 12 protein antigens from infectious/environmental organisms that are ubiquitous: Varicella, Influenza, Parainfluenza, Mumps, Cytomegalovirus, Streptococcus, Mycoplasma, Lactobacillus, Neisseria, Candida, Rubella, and Measles. Of these antigens, three were found to elicited interferon (IFN)-γ-producing CD4 cells in the majority of human test subjects: inactivated cytomegalo-, parainfluenza-, and influenza virions (CPI). While individually none of these three antigens triggered a recall response in all donors, the pool of the three (the 'CPI pool'), did. One hundred percent of 245 human donors tested were found to be CPI positive, including Caucasians, Asians, and African-Americans. Therefore, the CPI pool appears to be suitable to serve as universal positive control for verifying the functionality of CD4 and of antigen presenting cells.
Keywords: CD4 cell function; ELISPOT; ImmunoSpot; PBMC cryopreservation; PBMC quality assessment; immune monitoring.