Antigen (Ag)-specific CD8+ T cells are a major host defence against viral infections. In the present study, we generated human CD8+ T-cell lines specific towards influenza matrix peptide (IMP)-pulsed Ag-presenting cells. We compared the effect of interleukin-2 (IL-2) and IL-15 on the proliferation and cytotoxic activity of primary and secondary IMP-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) culture. In primary CTL cultures, IL-15-induced cell expansion was considerably reduced as compared with IL-2-induced cell expansion, and IL-15 favoured the outgrowth of CTLs without peptide specificity in these cultures. Secondary IMP-specific CD8+ T cells were generated by the addition of IL-2 during two cycles of restimulation. From the third restimulation, identical CTL cultures were expanded with either IL-2 or IL-15 in parallel. Cell expansion as well as Ag specificity was considerably reduced after a 5 day culture period in the presence of IL-15. No or low CD69 expression was observed in IL-15-cultured CTLs, whereas IL-2-cultured CTLs contained high fractions of CD69+ cells. Furthermore, a high fraction of these latter cells coexpressed the cytotoxic marker CD56. However, IL-15-cultured CTLs exhibited cytotoxic activity without detectable expression of CD56, suggesting that CD56 is not essential for cytotoxic activity. Thus, the results presented suggest that IL-15 favours the outgrowth of unspecific cytotoxic effector T cells.
Scandinavian Journal of Immunology, 2002, Vol 56, Issue 6, p. 602-10