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J Immunol. 2001 Mar 1;166(5):3174-83.

Ligation of 4-1BB (CDw137) regulates graft-versus-host disease, graft-versus-leukemia, and graft rejection in allogeneic bone marrow transplant recipients.

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University of Minnesota Cancer Center and Department of Pediatrics, Division of Bone Marrow Transplantation, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


4-1BB is expressed on activated CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells; its ligand, 4-1BB ligand is expressed on APCs. Despite expression on both T cell subpopulations, 4-1BB has been reported to predominantly affect CD8(+) T cell responses. By quantifying graft-vs-host disease alloresponses in vivo, we demonstrate that both CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell-mediated alloresponses are regulated by 4-1BB/4-1BB ligand interactions to approximately the same extent. 4-1BB receptor-facilitated CD4(+) T cell-mediated alloresponses were partly CD28 independent. In two distinct marrow graft rejection systems, host CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cells each separately contributed to host anti-donor T cell-mediated allograft rejection. alpha 4-1BB mAb increased the graft-vs-leukemia effect of a suboptimal number of donor splenocytes given later post bone marrow transplantation by bolstering allogeneic responses resulting in leukemia elimination. In summary, 4-1BB ligation is a potent regulator of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell-mediated allogeneic responses in vivo. Modifying the ligation of 4-1BB represents a new approach to altering the graft-vs-host disease and graft-vs-leukemia effects of allogeneic T cells post bone marrow transplantation.

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