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J Immunol. 2003 Feb 15;170(4):1667-74.

CD40 ligand in pathogenesis of autoimmune ovarian disease of day 3-thymectomized mice: implication for CD40 ligand antibody therapy.

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Department of Pathology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.


The blockade of CD40 ligand (CD40L) is effective in autoimmune disease prevention. Recently, a brief period of CD40L mAb treatment was reported to induce tolerance and enhancement of CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cell activity. We therefore determined the efficacy of CD40L mAb treatment in autoimmunity that resulted from CD4(+)CD25(+) regulatory T cell deficiency. Autoimmune ovarian disease (AOD) and oocyte autoantibody response of day 3-thymectomized (d3tx) mice were inhibited by continuous CD40L mAb treatment from day 3, or from days 10-14, whereas CD40L mAb treatment confined to the neonatal week was ineffective. The enhanced expression of memory markers (CD44 and CD62L(low)) on CD4(+) T cells of the d3tx mice was unaffected by CD40L mAb treatment. In contrast, their increased T cell activation markers (CD69 and CD25) were eliminated by CD40L mAb treatment. Moreover, ex vivo activated T cells of d3tx mice expressed elevated intracellular IFN-gamma, and this was also blocked by CD40L mAb. The memory T cells, although nonpathogenic in CD40L mAb-positive environment, transferred severe AOD to CD40L mAb(-) neonatal recipients. Most importantly, CD40L mAb treatment inhibited AOD in recipients of T cells from d3tx donors with severe AOD and led to regression of AOD in d3tx mice documented at 4 wk. Therefore, 1) the continuous presence of CD40L mAb both prevents and causes regression of AOD in the d3tx mice; and 2) the multiple steps of the d3tx autoimmune disease, including T cell activation, cytokine production, T cell-mediated inflammation, and tissue injury, are CD40L dependent.

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