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The expression of costimulatory molecules on antigen-presenting cells is crucial in determining T-cell immune responses. We examined the effects of transduction with high-affinity antisense oligodeoxyribonucleotides (ODNs) designed to target the mRNA of CD80 or CD86 on the phenotype and function of dendritic cells (DCs).DCs were propagated from C57BL/10 (B10; H2b) bone marrow cells in granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor and interleukin (IL)-4, and transduced with anti-CD80 or anti-CD86 antisense ODNs (base-mismatched ODNs as controls). The effect of antisense ODN on phenotype was examined by flow cytometry. The allostimulatory function of DCs was assessed by mixed leukocyte reaction and cytotoxic activity in vitro, and the influence on allograft survival was assessed in vivo.ODNs were effectively incorporated by DCs, which were enhanced by the presence of lipofectamine. Antisense ODNs targeting CD80 or CD86 mRNA specifically suppressed the expression of CD80 or CD86 in DCs and inhibited their capacity to elicit the proliferative responses, donor-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte activity in C3H (H2k) spleen T cells. This was associated with decreased IL-2, but elevated IL-4 production, and an increase in T-cell apoptosis. In contrast with the administration of control DCs into C3H recipients that exacerbated rejection of B10 cardiac allografts, injection of DCs transduced with anti-CD80 or CD86 antisense ODN significantly prolonged the survival of heart allografts.Transduction with antisense ODN targeting CD80 or CD86mRNA is a feasible and effective approach to modify DCs that renders them tolerogenic by inducing T-cell hyporesponsiveness and apoptosis. This may lead to the development of new therapeutic strategies in transplantation.