The immunogenicity of humanized and fully human antibodies: residual immunogenicity resides in the CDR regions

MAbs. May-Jun 2010;2(3):256-65. doi: 10.4161/mabs.2.3.11641. Epub 2010 May 1.


Monoclonal antibodies represent an attractive therapeutic tool as they are highly specific for their targets, convey effector functions and enjoy robust manufacturing procedures. Humanization of murine monoclonal antibodies has vastly improved their in vivo tolerability. Humanization, the replacement of mouse constant regions and V framework regions for human sequences, results in a significantly less immunogenic product. However, some humanized and even fully human sequence-derived antibody molecules still carry immunological risk. To more fully understand the immunologic potential of humanized and human antibodies, we analyzed CD4(+) helper T cell epitopes in a set of eight humanized antibodies. The antibodies studied represented a number of different VH and VL family members carrying unique CDR regions. In spite of these differences, CD4(+) T cell epitopes were found only in CDR-sequence containing regions. We were able to incorporate up to two amino acid modifications in a single epitope that reduced the immunogenic potential while retaining full biologic function. We propose that immunogenicity will always be present in some antibody molecules due to the nature of the antigen-specific combining sites. A consequence of this result is modifications to reduce immunogenicity will be centered on the affinity-determining regions. Modifications to CDR regions can be designed that reduce the immunogenic potential while maintaining the bioactivity of the antibody molecule.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / chemistry
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology*
  • Antibody Affinity
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Complementarity Determining Regions / genetics
  • Complementarity Determining Regions / immunology*
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / genetics
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Protein Engineering
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Complementarity Determining Regions
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte