In March 2006, a phase I study of the superagonistic anti-CD28 antibody TGN1412 caused a massive cytokine storm and multiorgan failure in six healthy human volunteers. Such a profound impact on the immune system was not predicted by preclinical animal studies. In a study from this issue of the JCI, Müller et al. treated rats with the superagonistic anti-CD28 antibody JJ316 and found that it rapidly induced a marked T cell lymphopenia by trapping T cells in the spleen and lymph nodes (see the related article on page 1405). This dramatic redistribution of T cells simulated the profound T cell lymphopenia observed in human recipients of TGN1412. In contrast, JJ316 treatment in the rats did not reproduce the massive cytokine storm observed following TGN1412 administration to the human volunteers. These results point to similarities as well as differences between rodents and humans in the immunological effects of superagonistic anti-CD28 antibody treatment and raise further questions about how best to design preclinical studies that can better predict the risks of novel immunotherapeutics in humans.
E. William St. Clair