Agonistic monoclonal antibody against CD40 receptor decreases lymphocyte apoptosis and improves survival in sepsis

Steven J. Schwulst, Mitchell H. Grayson, Peter J. DiPasco, Christopher G. Davis, Tejal S. Brahmbhatt, Thomas A. Ferguson, Richard S. Hotchkiss*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Sepsis causes a marked apoptosis-induced depletion of lymphocytes. The degree of lymphocyte apoptosis during sepsis strongly correlates with survival. CD40, a member of the TNFR family, is expressed on APCs and has potent antiapoptotic activity. In this study we determined whether an agonistic Ab against CD40 could protect lymphocytes from sepsis-induced apoptosis. Secondly, we examined potential antiapoptotic mechanisms of the putative protection. Lastly, we aimed to determine whether anti-CD40 treatment could improve survival in sepsis. CD1 mice were made septic by the cecal ligation and puncture method and treated postoperatively with anti-CD40 Ab. Treatment with anti-CD40 completely abrogated sepsis-induced splenic B cell death and, surprisingly, decreased splenic and thymic T cell death as well (p < 0.001). To investigate the mechanism of protection of anti-CD40 therapy on T cells, CD40 receptor expression was examined. As anticipated, the CD40 receptor was constitutively expressed on B cells, but, unexpectedly, splenic and thymic T cells were found to express CD40 receptor during sepsis. Furthermore, CD4+CB8 - T cells were the predominant subtype of T cells expressing CD40 receptor during sepsis. Additionally, the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-x L was found to be markedly increased in splenic B and T cells as well as in thymic T cells after treatment with anti-CD40 Ab (p < 0.0025). Lastly, mice that were made septic in a double injury model of sepsis had improved survival after treatment with anti-CD40 as compared with controls (p = 0.05). In conclusion, anti-CD40 treatment increases Bcl-XL, provides nearly complete protection against sepsis-induced lymphocyte apoptosis, and improves survival in sepsis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)557-565
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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