The use of a non-depleting anti-CD4 monoclonal antibody to re-establish tolerance to β cells in NOD mice



The use of immunosuppressive drugs in the management of autoimmunity penalizes a large part of the immune system for the misdemeanors of a small minority of T cells. An ideal form of therapy would be one in which it were possible to render the immune system tolerant of the inciting antigens with minimal effects on other responses. We here show that it is possible to re-establish self tolerance in an animal model of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus without prior deletion of CD4+ T cells using a short course of therapy with a non-lytic monoclonal antibody to the CD4 adhesion receptor on T cells. This tolerance can be achieved even when diabetogenic cells are already in the pancreas. Primary responses to antigens given after therapy has ceased are normal and secondary responses to antigens seen prior to, but not during, the period of antibody therapy can remain unaffected. This suggests that intervention with selected CD4 antibodies may have significant advantages over and above that provided not only by conventional immunosuppression but also over that provided by a depleting antibody.