Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) is a leading cause of viral meningoencephalitis in many parts of Europe and eastwards in Asia, with high morbidity and often long-term neurologic sequelae. With no treatment available, studies of the immune response to TBEV are essential for the understanding of the immunopathogenesis of tick-borne encephalitis and for the development of therapeutics. We have previously demonstrated that CD8+ T cell responses in peripheral blood in patients with acute TBEV peak at around 7 d after hospitalization in the neuroinvasive phase of the disease. In this study, we identified six novel TBEV HLA-A2- and HLA-B7-restricted epitopes, all derived from the nonstructural proteins of TBEV. This identification allowed for a comprehensive phenotypic and temporal analysis of the HLA-A2- and HLA-B7-restricted Ag-specific CD8+ T cell response during the acute stages of human TBEV infection. HLA-A2- and HLA-B7-restricted TBEV epitope-specific effector cells predominantly displayed a CD45RA-CCR7-CD27+CD57- phenotype at day 7, which transitioned into separate distinct phenotypes for HLA-A2- and HLA-B7-restricted TBEV-specific CD8+ T cells, respectively. At day 21, the most prevalent phenotype in the HLA-A2-restricted CD8+ T cell populations was CD45RA-CCR7-CD27+CD57+, whereas the HLA-B7-restricted CD8+ T cell population was predominantly CD45RA+CCR7-CD27+CD57+ Almost all TBEV epitope-specific CD8+ T cells expressed α4 and β1 integrins at days 7 and 21, whereas the bulk CD8+ T cells expressed lower integrin levels. Taken together, human TBEV infection elicits broad responses to multiple epitopes, predominantly derived from the nonstructural part of the virus, establishing distinct maturation patterns for HLA-A2- and HLA-B7-restricted TBEV epitope-specific CD8+ T cells.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors.