Distinct expression and inhibitory function of B and T lymphocyte attenuator on human T cells

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B and T lymphocyte attenuator (BTLA) has been recently identified as a new inhibitory receptor of the CD28 superfamily, with similarities to cytotoxic T lymphocyte activation antigen (CTLA)-4 and programmed death (PD)-1. Engagement of BTLA on T lymphocytes can profoundly reduce the T cell receptor (TCR)-mediated activation. In this study, we generated four monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against human BTLA. Using the produced mAb 8H9, the BTLA molecule was found to distinctly express on many subgroups of immunocytes and show a regulatory expression, which was in accordance with its unique ligand herpes virus entry mediator (HVEM) in the process of T cell activation. In addition, the expression of BTLA was increased in the CD4+ and CD8+ T cells of pleural fluid in lung cancer patients. Furthermore, we showed that the BTLA-induced negative signals could be triggered by mAb 7D7. Cross-linking of BTLA with mAb 7D7 suppressed T lymphocyte proliferation, downregulated the expression of T cell activation marker CD25, and inhibited the production of interferon (IFN)-γ, interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, and IL-10.

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