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J Immunol. 2002 Feb 1;168(3):1457-65.

Administration of agonistic anti-4-1BB monoclonal antibody leads to the amelioration of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


4-1BB, a member of the TNFR superfamily, is a costimulatory receptor primarily expressed on activated T cells. It has been shown that the administration of agonistic anti-4-1BB Abs enhances tumor immunity and allogenic immune responses. Paradoxically, we found that the administration of an agonistic anti-4-1BB mAb (2A) dramatically reduced the incidence and severity of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Adoptive transfer of T cells from such treated mice failed to induce EAE, whereas anti-4-1BB treatment following adoptive transfer of encephalitogenic T cells did not prevent EAE pathogenesis. These results suggest that anti-4-1BB treatment during the induction phase inhibits autoreactive T cell immune responses rather than preventing T cell trafficking into the CNS. This was substantiated by the observations that draining lymph node cells from anti-4-1BB-treated mice failed to respond to Ag stimulation in vitro. In addition, we found that such treatment initially promotes the activation and proliferation of Ag-specific CD4+ T cells but subsequently increases their probability of undergoing activation-induced cell death, thereby inhibiting effector T cell responses. More importantly, 2A treatment also inhibits the relapse of EAE in a clinically relevant murine model of multiple sclerosis. This study indicates that the agonistic Ab against 4-1BB can potentially be used as a novel immunotherapeutic agent for treating autoimmune diseases.

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