Background: OKT3, a mouse monoclonal antibody (Ab) specific for the human CD3 complex on T cells, is a potent immunosuppressive agent used for the treatment of acute allograft rejection. The utility of the drug has been limited by a neutralizing anti-mouse Ab response and adverse side effects resulting from T cell activation and systemic cytokine release. T cell activation is caused by OKT3-mediated cross-linking of T cells and Fc receptor-bearing cells. Studies in the mouse model have shown that global T cell activation is not necessary for immunosuppression, as Fc receptor-nonbinding anti-CD3 Abs can suppress graft rejection in the absence of the activation effects seen with Fc receptor-binding Abs. Thus, a humanized anti-CD3 antibody with a low affinity for Fc receptors might improve immunosuppressive therapy by reducing the side effects associated with OKT3.
Methods: We developed a mouse monoclonal Ab, M291, which competes with OKT3 for binding to T cells. Humanized, complementary-determining region-grafted versions of M291 featuring various Fc were engineered, including a previously described IgG2 mutant deficient in Fc receptor binding (HuM291).
Results: Compared with OKT3 and HuM291-IgG1, HuM291 was significantly less mitogenic to T cells in vitro and induced the release of much lower levels of the cytokines tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interferon-gamma, and interleukin-10. Despite this reduction in T cell activation, HuM291 retained the ability to modulate the CD3 complex and inhibit the mixed lymphocyte reaction.
Conclusions: When evaluated in vivo, HuM291 may be an immunosuppressive agent associated with less of the acute toxicity and immunogenicity seen with OKT3 therapy.