Anaphylaxis caused by repetitive doses of a GITR agonist monoclonal antibody in mice

Blood. 2014 Apr 3;123(14):2172-80. doi: 10.1182/blood-2013-12-544742. Epub 2014 Feb 20.


Immunotherapy for cancer using antibodies to enhance T-cell function has been successful in recent clinical trials. Many molecules that improve activation and effector function of T cells have been investigated as potential new targets for immunomodulatory antibodies, including the tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily members GITR and OX40. Antibodies engaging GITR or OX40 result in significant tumor protection in preclinical models. In this study, we observed that the GITR agonist antibody DTA-1 causes anaphylaxis in mice upon repeated intraperitoneal dosing. DTA-1-induced anaphylaxis requires GITR, CD4(+) T cells, B cells, and interleukin-4. Transfer of serum antibodies from DTA-1-treated mice, which contain high levels of DTA-1-specific immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1), can induce anaphylaxis in naive mice upon administration of an additional dose of DTA-1, suggesting that anaphylaxis results from anti-DTA-1 antibodies. Depletion of basophils and blockade of platelet-activating factor, the key components of the IgG1 pathway of anaphylaxis, rescues the mice from DTA-1-induced anaphylaxis. These results demonstrate a previously undescribed lethal side effect of repetitive doses of an agonist immunomodulatory antibody as well as insight into the mechanism of toxicity, which may offer a means of preventing adverse effects in future clinical trials using anti-GITR or other agonist antibodies as immunotherapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anaphylaxis / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / adverse effects*
  • Antigens, Differentiation / administration & dosage
  • B-Lymphocytes / physiology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Glucocorticoid-Induced TNFR-Related Protein / agonists*
  • Glucocorticoid-Induced TNFR-Related Protein / genetics
  • Glucocorticoid-Induced TNFR-Related Protein / immunology
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Interleukin-4 / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • Glucocorticoid-Induced TNFR-Related Protein
  • OX40Ig
  • Tnfrsf18 protein, mouse
  • Interleukin-4