Real-time Monitoring of Mitochondrial Respiration in Cytokine-differentiated Human Primary T Cells


During activation, the metabolism of T cells adapts to changes that impact their fate. An increase in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation is indispensable for T cell activation, and the survival of memory T cells is dependent on mitochondrial remodeling. Consequently, this affects the long-term clinical outcome of cancer immunotherapies. Changes in T cell quality are often studied by flow cytometry using well-known surface markers and not directly by their metabolic state. This is an optimized protocol for measuring real-time mitochondrial respiration of primary human T cells using an Extracellular Flux Analyzer and the cytokines IL-2 and IL-15, which differently affect T cell metabolism. It is shown that the metabolic state of T cells can clearly be distinguished by measuring the oxygen consumption when inhibiting key complexes in the metabolic pathway and that the accuracy of these measurements is highly dependent on optimal inhibitor concentration and inhibitor injection strategy. This standardized protocol will help implement mitochondrial respiration as a standard for T cell fitness in monitoring and studying cancer immunotherapies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere62984
JournalJournal of visualized experiments : JoVE
Issue number176
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2021


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