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J Immunol. 1999 May 15;162(10):5784-91.

Lymphoproliferative disorder in CTLA-4 knockout mice is characterized by CD28-regulated activation of Th2 responses.

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  • 1Committee on Immunology, Ben May Institute for Cancer Research, Department of Pathology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Mice lacking CTLA-4 die at an age of 2-3 wk due to massive lymphoproliferation, leading to lymphocytic infiltration and destruction of major organs. The onset of the lymphoproliferative disease can be delayed by treatment with murine CTLA4Ig (mCTLA4Ig), starting day 12 after birth. In this study, we have characterized the T cells present in CTLA-4-deficient mice before and after mCTLA4Ig treatment. The T cells present in CTLA-4-deficient mice express the activation markers, CD69 and IL-2R; down-regulate the lymphoid homing receptor, CD62L; proliferate spontaneously in vitro and cannot be costimulated with anti-CD28 mAb consistent with a hyperactivated state. The T cells from CTLA-4-deficient mice survive longer in culture correlating with higher expression of the survival factor, Bcl-xL, in these cells. Most significantly, the CD4+ T cell subset present in CTLA-4-deficient mice secretes high levels of IL-4 and IL-5 upon TCR activation. Treatment of CTLA-4-deficient mice treated with mCTLA4Ig reverses the activation and hyperproliferative phenotype of the CTLA-4-deficient T cells and restores the costimulatory activity of anti-CD28 mAb. Furthermore, T cells from mCTLA4Ig-treated mice are not skewed toward a Th2 cytokine phenotype. Thus, CTLA-4 regulates CD28-dependent peripheral activation of CD4+ T cells. This process results in apoptosis-resistant, CD4+ T cells with a predominantly Th2 phenotype that may be involved in the lethal phenotype in these animals.

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