Frequency of measles virus-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in subjects seronegative or highly seropositive for measles vaccine

Inna G. Ovsyannikova, Neelam Dhiman, Robert M. Jacobson, Robert A. Vierkant, Gregory A. Poland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


The protective effect of measles immunization is due to humoral and cell-mediated immune responses. Little is known about cell-mediated immunity (CMI) to measles vaccine virus, the relative contribution of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells to variability in such immune responses, and the immunologic longevity of the CMI after measles vaccination in humans. Our study characterizes cellular immune response in subjects seronegative or highly seropositive for measles vaccine immunoglobulin G-specific antibody, aged 15 to 25 years, previously immunized with two doses of measles-mumps-rubella II vaccine. We evaluated the ability of subjects to respond to measles vaccine virus by measuring measles virus-specific T-cell proliferation. We examined the frequencies of measles virus-specific memory Th1 and Th2 cells by an ELISPOT assay. Our results demonstrated that proliferation of T cells in seronegative subjects was significantly lower than that for highly seropositive subjects (P = 0.003). Gamma interferon (IFN-γ) secretion predominated over interleukin 4 (IL-4) secretion in response to measles virus in both groups. The median frequency of measles virus-reactive CD8+ T cells secreting IFN-γ was 0.09% in seronegative subjects and 0.43% in highly seropositive subjects (P = 0.04). The median frequency of CD4+ T cells secreting IL-4 in response to measles virus was 0.03% in seronegative subjects and 0.09% in highly seropositive subjects (P = 0.005). These data confirm the presence of measles virus-specific cellular immune responses post-measles vaccine immunization in humans. The detection of measles virus-induced IFN-γ and IL-4 production by ELISPOT can be used to identify measles virus-specific low-frequency memory T cells in subjects immunized with measles vaccine. These differences agree in directionality with the observed antibody response phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-416
Number of pages6
JournalClinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Microbiology (medical)


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