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Blood. 2008 Aug 15;112(4):1175-83. doi: 10.1182/blood-2007-11-125435. Epub 2008 Jun 3.

CTLA4 blockade expands FoxP3+ regulatory and activated effector CD4+ T cells in a dose-dependent fashion.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


Cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA4) delivers inhibitory signals to activated T cells. CTLA4 is constitutively expressed on regulatory CD4(+) T cells (Tregs), but its role in these cells remains unclear. CTLA4 blockade has been shown to induce antitumor immunity. In this study, we examined the effects of anti-CTLA4 antibody on the endogenous CD4(+) T cells in cancer patients. We show that CTLA4 blockade induces an increase not only in the number of activated effector CD4(+) T cells, but also in the number of CD4(+) FoxP3(+) Tregs. Although the effects were dose-dependent, CD4(+) FoxP3(+) regulatory T cells could be expanded at lower antibody doses. In contrast, expansion of effector T cells was seen only at the highest dose level studied. Moreover, these expanded CD4(+) FoxP3(+) regulatory T cells are induced to proliferate with treatment and possess suppressor function. Our results demonstrate that treatment with anti-CTLA4 antibody does not deplete human CD4(+) FoxP3(+) Tregs in vivo, but rather may mediate its effects through the activation of effector T cells. Our results also suggest that CTLA4 may inhibit Treg proliferation similar to its role on effector T cells. This study is registered at, registry number NCT00064129.

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