Background: Activated T cells play a key role in allograft rejection. T cell activation requires signaling via the T cell receptor as well as costimulatory signals. Inducible costimulatory molecule (ICOS), with its ligand B7RP-1, is a recently discovered costimulatory molecule of the CD28 family. The role of this signaling pathway during the early phases of kidney allograft rejection is not clear so far.
Methods: Kidneys were orthotopically transplanted from BALB/c to C57BL/6 mice. Animals were assigned to five experimental groups: blocking anti-ICOS monoclonal antibody, ICOS fusion protein, anti-B7RP1 monoclonal antibody, B7RP-1 fusion protein, and control immunoglobulin G.
Results: Survival was significantly reduced in animals treated with ICOS monoclonal antibody (mAb) and B7RP-1 Fc as compared with controls. These animals had also a lower number of apoptotic graft infiltrating T cells, whereas the expression of intracellular interferon-gamma in CD3CD4 T cells was increased. Animals treated with ICOS Fc and B7RP-1 mAb had similar survival and numbers of apoptotic T cells as compared with controls.
Conclusions: In summary, the blockade of ICOS with ICOS mAb or B7RP-1 Fc reduced the amount of apoptosis of infiltrating lymphocytes and resulted in continuous inflammatory processes with progressive tissue damage and graft failure.