The role of costimulation was examined in an in vivo model of alloantigen-driven Th1 or Th2 cytokine responses, the parent-into-F1 model of acute or chronic graft-vs-host disease (GVHD), respectively. The soluble fusion protein, murine CTLA4Ig, which blocks engagement of CD28 by its natural ligand B7-1 and B7-2, was administered either early, at the time of GVHD induction, or delayed, after the establishment of Th1 or Th2 effector responses (day 7). Early administration of CTLA4Ig prevented the development of both acute and chronic GVHD by preventing the activation of donor T cells, i.e., by blocking characteristic Th1 or Th2 cytokine production and blocking memory marker up-regulation on donor T cells. Delayed CTLA4Ig administration was unable to alter acute GVHD but did reverse chronic GVHD as evidenced by normalization of serum autoantibody levels, normal host B cell numbers and MHC class II expression, reduced donor T cell expression of CD40 ligand, and reduced numbers of donor CD4+ memory T cells. The percentage of donor memory cells was not altered by delayed CTLA4Ig. We conclude that in this model, alloantigen-driven Th1 or Th2 responses are equally susceptible to costimulatory blockade at the onset of disease; however, once effector mechanisms become established, only Th2-driven responses have a requirement for further costimulation for the continued expansion of CD4+ T cells. These data suggest that humoral, lupus-like autoimmunity requires continuous T cell help for B cells, and agents that interrupt this process may be beneficial.

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