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J Immunol. 2009 Mar 15;182(6):3492-502. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0803052.

Selective targeting of B cells with agonistic anti-CD40 is an efficacious strategy for the generation of induced regulatory T2-like B cells and for the suppression of lupus in MRL/lpr mice.

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Department of Medicine, Centre for Rheumatology Research, University College London, London, United Kingdom.


We have previously reported that IL-10(+) regulatory B cells, known to play an important role in controlling autoimmunity and inflammatory disorders, are contained within the transitional 2 immature (T2) B cell pool (T2 Bregs). Therapeutic strategies facilitating their enrichment or enhancing their suppressive activity are highly attractive. In this study, we report that agonistic anti-CD40 specifically targets T2 B cells and enriches Bregs upon short-term in vitro culture. Although transfer of unmanipulated T2 B cells, isolated from mice with established lupus, failed to confer protection to diseased mice, transfer of in vitro anti-CD40-generated T2 B cells (T2-like-Bregs) significantly improved renal disease and survival by an IL-10-dependent mechanism. T2-like-Bregs readily accumulated in the spleen after transfer, suppressed Th1 responses, induced the differentiation of IL-10(+)CD4(+)T cells, and conveyed a regulatory effect to CD4(+)T cells. In addition, in vivo administration of agonistic anti-CD40, currently on trial for the treatment of cancer, halted and reversed established lupus. Taken together, our results suggest a novel cellular approach for the amelioration of experimental lupus.

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