BH3 mimetics antagonizing restricted prosurvival Bcl-2 proteins represent another class of selective immune modulatory drugs

Emma M Carrington, Ingela B Vikstrom, Amanda Light, Robyn M Sutherland, Sarah L Londrigan, Kylie D Mason, David C S Huang, Andrew M Lew, David Tarlinton

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87 Citations (Scopus)


Death by apoptosis shapes tissue homeostasis. Apoptotic mechanisms are so universal that harnessing them for tailored immune intervention would seem challenging; however, the range and different expression levels of pro- and anti-apoptotic molecules among tissues offer hope that targeting only a subset of such molecules may be therapeutically useful. We examined the effects of the drug ABT-737, a mimetic of the killer BH3 domain of the Bcl-2 family of proteins that induces apoptosis by antagonizing Bcl-2, Bcl-XL, and Bcl-W (but not Mcl-1 and A1), on the mouse immune system. Treatment with ABT-737 reduced the numbers of selected lymphocyte and dendritic cell subpopulations, most markedly in lymph nodes. It inhibited the persistence of memory B cells, the establishment of newly arising bone marrow plasma cells, and the induction of a cytotoxic T cell response. Preexisting plasma cells and germinal centers were unaffected. Notably, ABT-737 was sufficiently immunomodulatory to allow long-term survival of pancreatic allografts, reversing established diabetes in this model. These results provide an insight into the selective mechanisms of immune cell survival and how this selectivity avails a different strategy for immune modulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10967 - 10971
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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