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Interaction between CD40 on B cells and CD40 ligand molecules on T cells is pivotal for the generation of a thymus-dependent antibody response. Here we show that B cells deficient in CD40 expression are unable to elicit the proliferation of allogeneic T cells in vitro. More importantly, mice immunized with CD40(-/-) B cells become tolerant to allogeneic major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigens as measured by a mixed lymphocyte reaction and cytotoxic T-cell assay. The failure of CD40(-/-) B cells to serve as antigen presenting cells in vitro was corrected by the addition of anti-CD28 mAb. Moreover, lipopolysaccharide stimulation, which upregulates B7 expression, reversed the inability of CD40(-/-) B cells to stimulate an alloresponse in vitro and abrogated the capacity of these B cells to induce tolerance in vivo. These results suggest that CD40 engagement by CD40 ligand expressed on antigen-activated T cells is critical for the upregulation of B7 molecules on antigen-presenting B cells that subsequently deliver the costimulatory signals necessary for T-cell proliferation and differentiation. Our experiments suggest a novel strategy for the induction of antigen- specific tolerance in vivo.

Original publication




Journal article


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Publication Date





4994 - 4998