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Blood. 2005 Apr 15;105(8):3372-80. Epub 2004 Dec 23.

Targeting of inducible costimulator (ICOS) expressed on alloreactive T cells down-regulates graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and facilitates engraftment of allogeneic bone marrow (BM).

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  • 1University of Minnesota Cancer Center and Department of Pediatrics, Division of BMT, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


Inducible costimulator (ICOS), a CD28/cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4) family member, is expressed on activated T cells. ICOS ligand, a B7 family member, is constitutively expressed on B cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells and is up-regulated on antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and some nonlymphoid tissues by tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) or lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Thus, ICOS: ICOS ligand (ICOSL) blockade could reduce alloreactive T cell-APC interactions responsible for graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and bone marrow (BM) graft rejection. ICOS blockade, achieved with ICOS-/- mice or anti-ICOS monoclonal antibody (mAb) administration, resulted in significant inhibition of GVHD in multiple strain combinations whether mediated by CD4+ and/or CD8+ T cells, alloantigen-specific T-cell receptor (TCR) transgenic (Tg) T cells, or CD28-, T helper 1 (Th1)-, or Th2-deficient T cells. Anti-ICOS significantly delayed GVHD mortality even when mAb infusions were delayed until day 5 after transplantation. ICOS blockade reduced the number of alloantigen-specific effector cells but did not prevent their activation. Imaging of green fluorescent protein-positive (GFP+) effectors indicated that ICOS blockade inhibited expansion of GVHD-causing effector T cells in secondary lymphoid and GVHD target organs. Engraftment rates were significantly higher in ICOS-/- versus wild-type (WT) mice receiving allogeneic BM, and ICOS blockade significantly inhibited expansion of host antidonor alloantigen-specific BM graft-rejecting T cells. These data suggest that the ICOS pathway may be a beneficial therapeutic target for GVHD inhibition, GVHD therapy, and BM graft promotion.

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