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J Immunol. 2005 May 15;174(10):6013-22.

CD40 ligation activates murine macrophages via an IFN-gamma-dependent mechanism resulting in tumor cell destruction in vitro.

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  • 1Department of Human Oncology and UW Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53792, USA.


We have shown previously that agonistic anti-CD40 mAb induced T cell-independent antitumor effects in vivo. In this study, we investigated mechanisms of macrophage activation with anti-CD40 mAb treatment, assessed by the antitumor action of macrophages in vitro. Intraperitoneal injection of anti-CD40 mAb into C57BL/6 mice resulted in activation of peritoneal macrophages capable of suppressing B16 melanoma cell proliferation in vitro, an effect that was greatly enhanced by LPS and observed against several murine and human tumor cell lines. Anti-CD40 mAb also primed macrophages in vitro to mediate cytostatic effects in the presence of LPS. The tumoristatic effect of CD40 ligation-activated macrophages was associated with apoptosis and killing of tumor cells. Activation of macrophages by anti-CD40 mAb required endogenous IFN-gamma because priming of macrophages by anti-CD40 mAb was abrogated in the presence of anti-IFN-gamma mAb, as well as in IFN-gamma-knockout mice. Macrophages obtained either from C57BL/6 mice depleted of T and NK cells by Ab treatment, or from scid/beige mice, were still activated by anti-CD40 mAb to mediate cytostatic activity. These results argued against the role of NK and T cells as the sole source of exogenous IFN-gamma for macrophage activation and suggested that anti-CD40 mAb-activated macrophages could produce IFN-gamma. We confirmed this hypothesis by detecting intracytoplasmic IFN-gamma in macrophages activated with anti-CD40 mAb in vivo or in vitro. IFN-gamma production by macrophages was dependent on IL-12. Taken together, the results show that murine macrophages are activated directly by anti-CD40 mAb to secrete IFN-gamma and mediate tumor cell destruction.

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