Increased expression of CTLA-4 (CD152) by T and B lymphocytes in Wegener's granulomatosis

K. Steiner, F. Moosig, E. Csernok, K. Selleng, W. L. Gross, B. Fleischer, Barbara M. Bröker*

*Corresponding author for this work
67 Citations (Scopus)


CTLA-4 (CD152) is a surface molecule of activated T cells with sequence homology to CD28. Both molecules bind to the same ligands, B7.1 (CD80) and B7.2 (CD86) but have antagonistic functions. While CD28 is an important costimulator, CTLA-4 has an essential inhibitory function in maintaining the homeostasis of the immune system. Furthermore, CTLA-4 has a role in inducing a Th1 response and suppressing Th2 cytokines, an effect which is antagonized by CD28. Many autoimmune diseases are characterized by an overwhelming production of Th1 cytokines. Recently, the predominance of the Th1 cytokine pattern has been directly observed in the granulomatous inflammation of patients with Wegener's granulomatosis. The balance between CD28 and CTLA-4 expression by T lymphocytes could be a factor in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases. Down regulation of CD28 predominantly on CD8+ T cells has been described in Wegner's granulomatosis; however, analysis of CTLA-4 is complicated by its low expression levels. Here we have used potent signal enhancement to study CTLA-4 on PBMC in patients with Wegener's granulomatosis (n = 25) in comparison with healthy controls (n = 19). Expression levels of CTLA-4 were significantly increased selectively on CD4+ and possibly also on CD4-/CD8- T cells in Wegener's granulomatosis. High CTLA-4 expression by T lymphocytes was associated with more severe disease. In contrast, after stimulation with the mitogen PHA, CTLA-4 levels were strongly increased on T cells from controls but in T cells from Wegener's granulomatosis patients this response was severely impaired. Interestingly, while CTLA-4 was seen exclusively on T cells in control individuals, about half of the Wegener's patients showed CTLA-4 expression by a fraction of peripheral B lymphocytes. CTLA-4 positive B cells in the periphery were associated with less acute disease.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)143-150
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2001

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


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