Enhancement of Antiviral T-Cell Responses by Vitamin C Suggests New Strategies to Improve Manufacturing of Virus-Specific T Cells for Adoptive Immunotherapy.
Allogeneic and autologous transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCT) are being routinely used to treat patients with leukemia and lymphoma. Due to the required immunosuppression after stem cell transplantation, infection and reactivation by viruses are life-threatening complications. In recent years, adoptive transfer using virus-specific T cells (VSTs) has emerged as alternative to conventional therapies. Since vitamins are described to influence the immune system and its cellular components, the aim of this study was to examine whether vitamins modulate VST function and thereby enable an improvement of therapy. For that, we investigated the impact of vitamin C and D on the functionality of cytomegalovirus (CMV)-specific T cells isolated from CMV-seropositive healthy donors. We were able to show that vitamin C increases the expansion and activation state of CMV-specific T cells, and an increased influence of vitamin C was observed on cells isolated from male donors and donors above 40 years of age. A higher frequency of the terminally differentiated effector memory CD8+ T-cell population in these donors indicates a connection between these cells and the enhanced response to vitamin C. Thus, here we provide insights into the impact of vitamin C on cytotoxic T cells as well as possible additional selection criteria and strategies to improve VST functionality.