Measuring the effect of drug treatments on primary human CD8+ T cell activation and cytolytic potential

STAR Protoc. 2021 May 19;2(2):100549. doi: 10.1016/j.xpro.2021.100549. eCollection 2021 Jun 18.


CD8+ T cells are key effector cells in adaptive immune responses against intracellular pathogens and cancer cells. Systemic drug treatments, like chemotherapy, may positively or negatively affect CD8+ T cell function. In this protocol, we describe robust and optimized ex vivo polyclonal activation and cell culture conditions to measure drug treatments' effects on primary human CD8+ T cell activation and cytolytic potential. We provide streamlined methods for measuring effector cytokines and activation markers of CD8+ T cells via flow cytometry. For complete details on the use and execution of this protocol, please refer to Loo Yau et al. (2021).

Keywords: Cell isolation; Cell-based Assays; Flow Cytometry/Mass Cytometry; Immunology; Molecular/Chemical Probes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes* / chemistry
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes* / drug effects
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes* / metabolism
  • Cell Separation / methods
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines* / analysis
  • Cytokines* / metabolism
  • Flow Cytometry / methods*
  • Humans


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines