Evaluation of antigen specific recognition and cell mediated cytotoxicity by a modified lysispot assay in a rat colon carcinoma model

Valentina Bordignon, Paola Cordiali-Fei, Monica Rinaldi, Emanuela Signori, Andrea Cottarelli, Manuela Zonfrillo, Fabrizio Ensoli, Guido Rasi, Maria Pia Fuggetta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Antigen-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes represent potent effector cells of the adaptive immune response against viruses as well as tumours. Therefore assays capable at exploring the generation and function of cytotoxic T lymphocytes represent an important objective for both clinical and experimental settings. Methods. Here we show a simple and reproducible assay for the evaluation of antigen-specific CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes based on a LysiSpot technique for the simultaneous determination of antigen-specific IFN- production and assessment of tumor cytolysis. The assay was developed within an experimental model of colorectal carcinoma, induced by the colorectal tumor cell line DHD-K12 that induces tumors in BDIX rats and, in turn, elicits a tumor- specific immune response. Results: Using DHD-K12 cells transfected to express Escherichia coli β-galactosidase as target cells, and by the fine setting of spot colours detection, we have developed an in vitro assay that allows the recognition of cytotoxic T lymphocytes induced in BDIX rats as well as the assessment of anti-tumour cytotoxicity. The method highlighted that in the present experimental model the tumour antigen-specific immune response was bound to killing target cells in the proportion of 55%, while 45% of activated cells were not cytotoxic but released IFN-. Moreover in this model by an ELISPOT assay we demonstrated the specific recognition of a nonapeptide epitope called CSH-275 constitutionally express in DHD-K12 cells. Conclusions: The assay proved to be highly sensitive and specific, detecting even low frequencies of cytotoxic/activated cells and providing the evaluation of cytokine-expressing T cells as well as the extent of cytotoxicity against the target cells as independent functions. This assay may represent an important tool to be adopted in experimental settings including the development of vaccines or immune therapeutic strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalJournal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • BDIX rats
  • Colon cancer
  • CTLs
  • ELISpot
  • LysiSpot
  • Tumor antigens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Medicine(all)

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