Generation of multivirus-specific T cells by a single stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells with a peptide mixture using serum-free medium

Cytotherapy. 2018 Sep;20(9):1182-1190. doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2018.05.009. Epub 2018 Aug 17.


Background: Restoration of virus-specific immunity by virus specific T cells (VSTs) offers an attractive alternative to conventional drugs, and can be highly effective in immunocompromised patients, including hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) recipients. However, conventional VSTs manufacture requires preparation of specialized antigen-presenting cells (APCs), prolonged ex vivo culture in serum-containing medium and antigen re-stimulation with viruses or viral vectors to provide viral antigens for presentation on APCs.

Methods: To simplify this complex process, we developed a method to generate multiple VSTs by direct stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with overlapping peptide libraries in serum-free medium.

Results: We generated VSTs that targeted seven viruses (cytomegalovirus [CMV], Epstein-Barr virus [EBV], adenovirus [AdV], human herpesvirus 6 [HHV-6], BK virus [BKV], JC virus [JCV] and Varicella Zoster virus [VZV]) in a single line. The phenotype, growth and specificity of multiple VSTs produced in serum-free medium were equivalent to those generated in conventional serum-containing medium.

Discussion: The use of serum-free medium allows this approach to be readily introduced to clinical practice with lower cost, greater reproducibility due to the absence of batch-to-batch variability in serum and without concerns for infectious agents in the serum used. This simplified approach will now be tested in recipients of Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA)-matched sibling HSCT.

Keywords: T lymphocytes; hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; serum-free culture medium; viral antigens; viral diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / immunology
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Culture Media, Serum-Free / pharmacology
  • Cytomegalovirus / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 3, Human / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology*
  • Peptide Library
  • Peptides / immunology
  • Peptides / pharmacology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / virology*


  • Antigens, Viral
  • Culture Media, Serum-Free
  • Peptide Library
  • Peptides