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Nat Med. 2002 Dec;8(12):1405-13. Epub 2002 Nov 11.

Costimulatory molecule-targeted antibody therapy of a spontaneous autoimmune disease.

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Department of Pathology and Committee in Immunology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.


Humans and mice deficient in Fas, a tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-receptor family member, cannot induce apoptosis of autoreactive cells, and consequently develop progressive lymphoproliferative disorders and lupus-like autoimmune diseases. Previous studies have shown that short-term administrations of agonistic monoclonal antibodies against CD137, another TNF-receptor family member, activate T cells and induce rejection of allografts and established tumors. Here we report that treatment with an agonistic monoclonal antibody to CD137 (2A) blocks lymphadenopathy and spontaneous autoimmune diseases in Fas-deficient MRL/lpr mice, ultimately leading to their prolonged survival. Notably, 2A treatment rapidly augments IFN-gamma production, and induces the depletion of autoreactive B cells and abnormal double-negative T cells, possibly by increasing their apoptosis through Fas- and TNF receptor-independent mechanisms. This study demonstrates that agonistic monoclonal antibodies specific for costimulatory molecules can be used as novel therapeutic agents to delete autoreactive lymphocytes and block autoimmune disease progression.

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