CD4 mAb induced apoptosis of peripheral T cells: multiparameter subpopulation analysis by flow cytometry using Attractors

J Immunol Methods. 2001 Nov 1;257(1-2):71-82. doi: 10.1016/s0022-1759(01)00447-1.


Studies describing the induction of apoptosis for CD4 mAbs do not delineate between epitope-dependent and Fc-driven epitope cross-linking induced cell death. Keliximab and clenoliximab are two CD4 mAbs that differ only in their heavy chain isotypes, being an IgG1 and a modified IgG4, respectively. These antibodies suppress CD4 T cell responses in vitro and in vivo and have been in human clinical trials for the treatment of RA and asthma. Here we compared the apoptotic activity of these mAbs to differentiate between the contributions of epitope-dependent vs. Fc-driven epitope cross-linking induced cell death in vitro as a link to differential CD4 cell depletion in vivo. We developed a simple flow cytometry procedure that measures apoptosis within intact and compromised subpopulations of PBMCs within a few hours of culture. Attractors software was used to quantitate the percentage of apoptotic CD4 T cells, which generate reactive oxygen species (ROS), express external phosphatidyl serine (PS) and cleaved fluorescein diacetate (FDA), within the intact and compromised lymphocyte populations. Treatment of freshly isolated PBMCs with keliximab resulted in the appearance of characteristic apoptotic condensed CD4 T cells that contained reactive oxygen species, were annexin V positive and had intact esterase activity. Apoptosis was evident within 3 h and continued throughout the 72-h culture period. In contrast, clenoliximab alone did not induce apoptosis. The use of multiparameter flow cytometry and Attractors to analyze subpopulations based on scatter properties and biochemical processes during apoptosis provides a sensitive assay in which to quantitate and characterize the induction of cell death. Depletion of CD4 T cells in vivo by keliximab may reflect, in part, antibody-mediated apoptosis of these cells that is dependent on Fcgamma receptors.

MeSH terms

  • Annexin A5 / metabolism
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / immunology*
  • CD4 Antigens / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Flow Cytometry / methods*
  • Flow Cytometry / statistics & numerical data
  • Fluoresceins
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Software
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / cytology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism


  • Annexin A5
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • CD4 Antigens
  • Fluoresceins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • clenoliximab
  • keliximab
  • diacetylfluorescein