Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) can lead to infectious mononucleosis (“Pfeiffer’s glandular fever”). After a first infection usually in childhood to adolescence, the virus nests in the B cells of the immune system for life and is controlled by the healthy immune system. In case of a weakened immune system, e.g. after transplantation and in patients who need to take immunosupressive drugs, EBV can multiply uncontrollably and can finally lead to the development of malignant tumors (lymphoproliferative disorders).
T cells of the immune system can control EBV and the anti-EBV immune response has been well described for αβ T cells. However, there is increasing evidence that also γδ T cells can control EBV virus control. In this project, we investigate the contribution of γδ T cells to the fight against EBV infection in healthy patients and how this interaction with αβ T cells changes under immunosuppression. One therapeutic option for transplant patients with EBV-associated problems is the transfer of purified EBV-specific T cells from healthy donors. These are usually almost exclusively αβ T cells, in this study we aim at characterizing the role of the patient’s own γδ T cells in the efficacy of the transferred EBV-specific T cells in the patient.