The aim of this work was to optimize the procedures used to elicit a cellular immune response to pseudorabies virus (PrV) in mice, using various immunization schedules and routes. An Eu-labeling-based cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) test was developed to measure the response. This necessitated optimization of numerous steps. In suspension, Eu labeling required high concentrations of dextran-sulfate (DXS) and Eu with a 30-min labeling time at room temperature. For anchored cells, the labeling time was 1 to 48 h, and the labeling efficiency depended strongly on the Eu concentration, but only marginally on the DXS concentration. In vivo and in vitro stimulation protocols were also optimized for the CTL test. For in vitro stimulation, spleen cells were cultured in T-25 flasks at a multiplicity of infection (m.o.i.) of 2. The CTL test was validated by specific depletion of CD8+CTL, FACS analysis, and by comparing Eu and51Cr labeling. Then groups of mice were vaccinated once or twice by various routes (intraperitoneal (i.p.), intravenous (i.v.), subcutaneous (s.c.) and in the rear footpads (FP)) and according to different time schedules. CTL activity was detected only in boosted animals immunized FP, i.p. or i.v. That the cellular immune response contributes to protection was further suggested by the observation that i.p. immunization conferred better protection against challenge than s.c. immunization.
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