Indexed on: 17 Mar '07Published on: 17 Mar '07Published in: Blood
Chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) is an increasingly frequent complication of allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Current therapies for cGVHD reduce symptoms but are not cures. The B10.D2-->Balb/c (H-2(d)) minor histocompatibility antigen-mismatched model, which reflects clinical and pathological symptoms of human cGVHD, was used in this study. We demonstrated that a single injection of an agonistic monoclonal antibody (mAb) against CD137, a member of the tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily, reverses skin fibrosis, ulceration, and alopecia, a dominant feature of cGVHD (cutaneous GVHD), ultimately improving general health conditions. The reversal is associated with markedly reduced CD4(+) T-cell cytokines and increased apoptosis of donor CD4(+) T cells. The Fas pathway is required for ameliorating cutaneous GVHD by anti-CD137 mAb. Taken together, these data indicate that the anti-CD137 mAb has a therapeutic effect on cutaneous GVHD by removing donor CD4(+) T cells that cause cutaneous GVHD. Thus, our study demonstrates an agonistic mAb, specific for a costimulatory molecule, as a possible target for therapeutic intervention in cutaneous GVHD.