Expression of CTLA-4 (CD152) on human medullary CD4+ thymocytes

Med Microbiol Immunol. 1998 Jun;187(1):49-52. doi: 10.1007/s004300050073.


CTLA-4 (CD152) is a T cell surface receptor with sequence homology to the co-stimulatory molecule CD28. The molecule, which is essential for the inhibitory regulation of the immune response, becomes transiently expressed on mature T cells after stimulation in vitro. In situ, CTLA-4+ T cells are enriched in the light zones of the germinal centers in human peripheral lymphoid organs. In this study we have studied expression of CTLA-4 in human thymus in situ. CTLA-4 was expressed on about one third of CD4+/CD8-/CD1- medullary thymocytes. CTLA-4 was acquired by a subset of immature (CD1+) thymocytes and lost from the mature (CD1-) subpopulation within 48 h of cell culture, suggesting that the expression on medullary thymocytes is transient. The demonstration of CTLA-4 on a substantial subpopulation of mature CD4+ thymocytes adds a new dimension to the understanding of this important molecule. When contemplating application of anti-CTLA-4 for therapy its potential influence on T cell maturation has to be taken into account.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abatacept
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation / metabolism*
  • CD4 Antigens / immunology*
  • CTLA-4 Antigen
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Humans
  • Immunoconjugates*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Thymus Gland / immunology
  • Time Factors


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • CD4 Antigens
  • CTLA-4 Antigen
  • CTLA4 protein, human
  • Ctla4 protein, mouse
  • Immunoconjugates
  • Abatacept