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Chimerism. 2011 Jan;2(1):29-32.

Divide and conquer: Blocking graft versus host but not graft versus leukemia T cells with agonist BTLA co-inhibitory signals.

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  • 1Departments of Surgery and Medical Microbiology and Immunology, and Alberta Diabetes Institute; University of Alberta; Edmonton, AB Canada.


One of the main objectives in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (aHSCT) research is the prevention of graft versus host disease (GVHD) while maintaining the graft versus leukemia/lymphoma (GVL) effect. Whether these two responses generated by donor T cells can be sufficiently separated and controlled remains controversial. While various approaches have been tested to achieve this goal, success has been relatively limited. Lymphocyte responses are negatively regulated by a series of receptors that function along with antigen receptors to deliver co-inhibitory signals. B and T lymphocyte associated (BTLA) is a novel co-inhibitory molecule expressed by activated T cells, B cells and other immune cells. A study by Albring et al. has now shown in a murine model that a single injection of agonistic anti-BTLA monoclonal antibody can inhibit GVHD long-term while maintaining GVL responses and immunity to infection. These studies suggest that future development of biologics to harness the function of co-inhibitory signals will be an important approach in the prevention of autoimmunity and GVHD and in protocols to achieve transplantation tolerance.

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