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Semin Immunol. 2011 Aug;23(4):293-303. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2011.04.002. Epub 2011 May 26.

Costimulatory pathways in transplantation.

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Division of Transplantation, Department of Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Austria.


Secondary, so-called costimulatory, signals are critically required for the process of T cell activation. Since landmark studies defined that T cells receiving a T cell receptor signal without a costimulatory signal, are tolerized in vitro, the investigation of T cell costimulation has attracted intense interest. Early studies demonstrated that interrupting T cell costimulation allows attenuation of the alloresponse, which is particularly difficult to modulate due to the clone size of alloreactive T cells. The understanding of costimulation has since evolved substantially and now encompasses not only positive signals involved in T cell activation but also negative signals inhibiting T cell activation and promoting T cell tolerance. Costimulation blockade has been used effectively for the induction of tolerance in rodent models of transplantation, but turned out to be less potent in large animals and humans. In this overview we will discuss the evolution of the concept of T cell costimulation, the potential of 'classical' and newly identified costimulation pathways as therapeutic targets for organ transplantation as well as progress towards clinical application of the first costimulation blocking compound.

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