Human-like response of pig T cells to superagonistic anti-CD28 monoclonal antibodies

Because of its size, anatomical similarities, and now also accessibility to genetic manipulations, pigs are used as animal models for human diseases and immune system development. However, expression and function of CD28, the most important costimulatory receptor expressed by T cells, so far is poorly understood in this species. Using a newly generated mAb (mAb 3D11) with specificity for pig CD28, we detected CD28 on CD8+ and CD4+ αβ T cells. Among γδ T cells, CD28 expression was restricted to a small CD2+ subpopulation of phenotypically naive cells. Functionally, CD28 ligation with mAb 3D11-costimulated porcine T cells, enhanced proliferation and cytokine secretion in vitro. We used a second, likewise newly generated but superagonistic, anti-CD28 mAb (CD28-SA; mAb 4D12) to test the function of CD28 on porcine T cells in a pilot study in vivo. Injection of the CD28-SA into pigs in vivo showed a very similar dose-response relationship as in humans (i.e., 100 µg/kg body weight [BW]) of CD28-SA induced a cytokine release syndrome that was avoided at a dose of 10 µg/kg BW and below. The data further suggest that low-dose (10 µg/kg BW) CD28-SA infusion was sufficient to increase the proportion of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells among CD4+ T cells in vivo. The pig is thus a suitable animal model for testing novel immunotherapeutics. Moreover, data from our pilot study in pigs further suggest that low-dose CD28-SA infusion might allow for selective expansion of CD4+ regulatory T cells in humans.

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