Detection of a novel specificity (CTLA-4) in ATG/TMG globulins and sera from ATG-treated leukemic patients

Maria Pia Pistillo, Pier Luigi Tazzari, Francesca Bonifazi, Giuseppe Bandini, Tomohiro Kato, Toshihiro Matsui, Kusuki Nishioka, Roberto Conte, Giovanni Battista Ferrara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. T-cell costimulation has been shown to provide positive signals for T-cell activation and generation of effector activity. In this study, we analyzed the presence of antibodies (Abs) against the T-lymphocyte costimulatory molecules CD28, CTLA-4, CD80, and CD86 in anti-T-lymphocyte (ATG) and antithymocyte (TMG) globulin preparations to address their mechanism of action. We focused our attention on the role of CTLA-4 -specific Abs in the immunosuppressive effect of ATG/TMG, because anti-CTLA-4 agonistic Abs may suppress T-cell proliferation and nonagonistic Abs may lead to T-cell depletion through an Ab-dependent cell cytotoxicity mechanism. Methods. ATG/TMG and patients' sera were tested for binding to recombinant human costimulatory molecules by ELISA techniques. CTLA-4 specificity was also analyzed by cytoplasmic immunofluorescence staining of a CTLA-4 transfectant by competitive inhibition immunofluorescence and by cell proliferation assay in allogeneic mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR). Results. Either ATG or TMG predominantly contained anti-CTLA-4 Abs, with higher reactivity in ATG followed by anti-CD86 and -CD28 Abs, whereas anti-CD80 Abs were found only in ATG. Anti-CTLA-4 Abs present in ATG/TMG recognized the native form of CTLA-4 molecule, and their removal reduced the effect of ATG in an allogeneic MLR. Kinetic studies indicated that such Abs were present in the sera of 12 ATG-treated leukemic patients up to 21 days after ATG administration. Conclusions. These data suggest that the novel anti-CTLA-4 Abs found in ATG may greatly contribute to its immunosuppressive effect, thus accounting for the absence of rejection and exceptionally low incidence of graft-versus-host disease in the group of patients analyzed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1295-1302
Number of pages8
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Apr 27 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation
  • Immunology


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