Background. Allograft rejection depends on T cell immune responses requiring antigen recognition and costimulatory signals through accessory T cell receptors, including CD28. Inhibition of CD28 signaling with a CTLA-4- immunoglobulin (Ig) fusion protein has resulted in immunosuppression and occasional T cell anergy in mouse transplant models, but not in rats. Because this approach also inhibits a potentially tolerizing signal through CTLA-4, selective blockade of CD28 ligation might induce more profound immunosuppression and transplant tolerance. Methods. The effects of escalating doses of the rat CD28 monoclonal antibody JJ319 on allograft survival were studied after vascularized heterotopic heart transplantation in a high responder strain combination (DA to Lewis). CD28 antigen modulation and circulating antibody levels were monitored by flow cytometry. Results. CD28 antibody JJ319 markedly prolonged cardiac graft survival compared with untreated controls (7 days, range: 6-8). A strictly dose-dependent increase in median graft survival time was demonstrated with a maximum of 36 days (range: 30-40; p<0.001) after the administration of 8 x 1 mg JJ319 i.p. (days -1 to +6 before/after transplantation). However, indefinite graft survival and tolerance could not be induced by JJ319 treatment. At the maximal dose, flow cytometry showed complete down modulation of the CD28 receptor for 10- 14 days without T cell depletion in close temporal relation to antibody presence in serum. In vitro, CD28-modulated T cells showed significantly reduced responses to activation. Conclusions. CD28 antibody JJ319 induces profound immunosuppression after rat heart transplantation, however without development of transplant tolerance. The underlying mechanism seems to be receptor modulation during primary alloantigen recognition. While still potentially applicable clinically, there are no qualitative or quantitative differences to the treatment with CTLA-4/lg or the blockade of CD2 or LFA-1, as reported elsewhere. Thus, a CD28-modulating approach seems not to allow therapeutic exploitation of a tolerizing signal delivered by CTLA-4 but may still be clinically applicable, especially in combined immune interventions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas