T cell immunity is vital for the control of viral infections. Cytotoxic CD8 T cells play a crucial role in eliminating virus-infected cells while CD4 helper T cells mediate host immune responses and promote B cells to secrete antibodies. For both, T cell recognition of viral antigens in the form of short peptides presented by HLA complexes is a prerequisite for T cell activation. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has become a global pandemic that has disrupted economies and resulted in an enormous burden on health care systems. Despite the worldwide intensive efforts on development of COVID-19 therapeutics, a safe and effective COVID-19 treatment or vaccine is not yet available. In this study, we established an in vitro stimulation system in which peripheral blood mononuclear cells were treated with putative SARS-CoV-2 immunogenic peptides. T cell immune responses were measured using different quantitative flow cytometry panels that were designed for evaluating cytokine production or identifying T cell subsets. Evaluation of host immune responses with a suite of flow cytometric panels may prove to be useful in the study of COVID-19.

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Citation Format: Xiaoshan Shi, Scott J. Bornheimer, Suraj Saksena, Stephanie Widmann, Aaron Tyznik. Flow cytometry analysis of immune response to COVID-19 vaccine candidates using an in vitro stimulation model [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2021; 2021 Apr 10-15 and May 17-21. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2021;81(13_Suppl):Abstract nr 715.