On the role of APC-activation for in vitro versus in vivo T cell priming.
Storni T., Bachmann MF.
Professional antigen-presenting cells take up antigens for processing and presentation in association with MHC class I and II molecules. When APCs receive the right stimuli, they undergo a maturation process and migrate to secondary lymphoid organs to trigger T cell activation. In this study, we compared side-by-side in vivo and in vitro activation of T cells. Transgenic CD8(+) T cells specific for the p33 epitope, derived from the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus glycoprotein, were labeled with CFSE and injected into syngeneic mice or alternatively, co-cultured in vitro with APCs. The p33 epitope was delivered as free peptide or genetically fused to virus-like particles. Whereas proliferation of specific T cells was comparable in both systems, the production of IFN-gamma and the expression of CD25 showed important differences. Induction of effector function and expression of activation markers were strongly enhanced in vitro by both the free peptide and VLPs. Surprisingly, addition of CpG-containing immune-stimulating DNA for activation of APCs dramatically increased effector T cell differentiation in vitro, whereas no enhancement could be observed in vitro. Thus, activation of professional APCs was mandatory for induction of effector CD8(+) T cell responses in vivo, while this step was largely dispensable in vitro.