Mice lacking CTLA-4 develop a fatal spontaneous lymphoproliferative disease with massive lymphocytic infiltrates and tissue destruction in many organs. CTLA-4-deficient (-/-) splenocytes and lymph node cells proliferate without added stimuli in vitro. We report here that CTLA4Ig treatment of CTLA-4 -/- mice prevents lymphoproliferation and fatal multiorgan tissue damage in vivo and proliferation of CTLA-4 -/- splenocytes and lymph node cells in vitro. Therefore, stimulation via CD28-B7 interactions appears necessary for CTLA-4 -/- T cell proliferation and the production of lymphoproliferative disease in vivo. When CTLA4Ig treatment is terminated, CTLA-4 -/- T cells become activated and lymphoproliferative disease develops. The lack of long term protective effects of CTLA4Ig treatment suggests that CTLA-4 is needed for the induction and or maintenance of tolerance.

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