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Clin Exp Immunol. 2013 Jul;173(1):150-60. doi: 10.1111/cei.12081.

Up-regulation of alternate co-stimulatory molecules on proinflammatory CD28null T cells in bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome.

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Lung Research, Hanson Institute and Department of Thoracic Medicine, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Australia.


Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) is associated with lack of immunosuppression of T cell proinflammatory cytokines and increased T cell granzyme B. Repeated antigen-driven proliferation down-regulates T cell CD28. We hypothesized that down-regulation of CD28 and up-regulation of alternate co-stimulatory molecules (CD134, CD137, CD152 and CD154) on T cells may be associated with BOS. Co-stimulatory molecules, granzyme B, perforin and intracellular cytokines were measured by flow cytometry on T cells from stable lung transplant patients (n = 38), patients with BOS (n = 20) and healthy controls (n = 10). There was a significant increase in the percentage of CD4/28(null) and CD8/28(null) T cells producing granzyme B, interferon (IFN)-γ and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α in BOS compared with stable patients. Down-regulation of CD28 was associated with steroid resistance and up-regulation of CD134, CD137, CD152 and CD154 on CD4(+) T cells and CD137 and CD152 on CD8(+) T cells. There was a significant correlation between increased CD28(null) /CD137 T cells producing IFN-γ, TNF-α with BOS grade (r = 0·861, P < 0·001 for CD28(null) /CD137 IFN-γ/CD8) and time post-transplant (r = 0·698, P < 0·001 for CD28(null) /CD137 IFN-γ/CD8). BOS is associated with down-regulation of CD28 and up-regulation of alternate co-stimulatory molecules on steroid-resistant peripheral blood proinflammatory CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells. Therapeutic targeting of alternate co-stimulatory molecules on peripheral blood CD28(null) T cells and monitoring response using these assays may help in the management of patients with BOS.

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