Complex interactions between positive and negative cosignaling receptors ultimately determine the fate of the immune response. The recently identified coinhibitory receptor, B and T lymphocyte attenuator (BTLA), contributes to regulation of autoimmune and potentially alloimmune responses. We investigated the role of BTLA in a fully major histocompatibility complex-mismatched mouse islet transplant model. We report that anti-BTLA mAb (6F7) alone does not accelerate graft rejection. Rather, while CTLA4Ig alone improved allograft survival, the addition of anti-BTLA mAb to CTLA4Ig led to indefinite (>100 days) allograft survival. Immediately after treatment with anti-BTLA mAb and CTLA4Ig, islet allografts showed intact islets and insulin production despite a host cellular response, with local accumulation of Foxp3+ cells. We clearly demonstrate that combined therapy with anti-BTLA mAb and CTLA4Ig mice induced donor-specific tolerance, since mice accepted a second donor-specific islet graft without further treatment and rejected third party grafts. CTLA4Ig and anti-BTLA mAb limited the initial in vivo proliferation of CFSE-labeled allogeneic lymphocytes, and anti-BTLA mAb enhanced the proportion of PD-1 expressing T cells while depleting pathogenic BTLA+ lymphocytes. We conclude that targeting the BTLA pathway in conjunction with CTLA4Ig costimulatory blockade may be a useful strategy for promoting immunological tolerance in murine islet allografts.
- Costimulatory blockade
- Islet transplantation