- Mitogens are non-specific stimulants of immune cells.
- Mitogen stimulation leads to immune cell activation and is used as a measure of general immune function. Common mitogens include phytohemagglutinin (PHA), phorbol-myristic-acid-calcium ionophore (PMA), pokeweed mitogen, and others.
- Some mitogens have more pronounced effects on some immune cells than others. For example, T-cells are strongly activated by PMA, while B-cells are strongly activated by pokeweed mitogens.
- Mitogen-stimulated immune responses serve as a positive control reaction in tests to measure antiviral immune cell function.
- Healthy immune cells respond to stimulation with mitogens.
- However, immune cells that respond to mitogens may not respond to other antigens.
- Early during viral infections, immune cells fail to respond to the virus but may continue to respond to mitogens.
- During immune deficiency, immune cells may fail to respond to viral antigens and mitogens.
- Most individuals are exposed to common viruses during their lifetimes.
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) are two such common viruses.
- The PlexCMV and PlexEBV assay measure T-cell immune responses to the CMV and EBV viruses.
- Both tests also measure T-cell immune cell response to mitogens, simultaneously.
- Selective loss of T-cell response to either virus is more common during infection with the corresponding virus.
- Global loss of T-cell response to common viruses and mitogens is more often seen with immune deficiency.
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Early during viral infections, immune cells fail to respond to the virus, but may continue to respond to mitogens. Mitogen-stimulated immune responses serve as a positive control reaction in tests to measure antiviral immune cell function.