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Arthritis Rheum. 2003 Sep;48(9):2541-54.

Distinct mechanisms of action of anti-CD154 in early versus late treatment of murine lupus nephritis.

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Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, New Hampshire 03756, USA.



Treatment with anti-CD154 antibody is known to ameliorate murine lupus nephritis when given early in the disease. The aims of this study were to identify the mechanism of this early effect, to determine whether late anti-CD154 treatment could halt established nephritis, and, if so, to examine potential mechanisms of late efficacy.


We studied the effects of anti-CD154 treatment on autoantibody production and immune complex deposition, renal pathology, survival, and renal cytokine and chemokine messenger RNA (mRNA) expression both in (NZB x NZW)F(1) mice (BW mice) and in NZM.2410 mice.


Early treatment with anti-CD154 produced long-term survival in BW mice, with abrogation of renal immune complex deposition for months after treatment was stopped. Late anti-CD154 treatment, started after development of nephritis, could halt disease in approximately 40% of mice. In some mice, proteinuria could be reversed repeatedly with sequential courses of anti-CD154 antibody. The remissions induced by late treatment with anti-CD154 occurred despite ongoing renal immune complex deposition. In preliminary studies, responding mice had rapid reductions in renal mRNA for transforming growth factor beta, interleukin-10, and tumor necrosis factor alpha.


Amelioration of murine lupus by anti-CD154 therapy is mediated by distinct mechanisms in early versus late intervention. We postulate that anti-CD154 therapy prevents autoantibody production and renal immune complex deposition in the early, induction phase and limits secondary tissue damage in situ in the late, effector phase. These data demonstrate that CD40-CD154 interactions are critical for the maintenance of autoimmunity and suggest a potential role for anti-CD154 as a therapeutic agent in established human lupus.

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