Staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) is a bacterial superantigen that binds the receptors in the APC/T cell synapse and causes increased proliferation of T cells and a cytokine storm syndrome in vivo. Exposure to the toxin can be lethal and cause significant pathology in humans. The lack of effective therapies for SEB exposure remains an area of concern, particularly in scenarios of acute mass casualties. We hypothesized that blockade of the T cell costimulatory signal by the CTLA4-Ig synthetic protein (abatacept) could prevent SEB-dependent pathology. In this article, we demonstrate mice treated with a single dose of abatacept 8 h post SEB exposure had reduced pathology compared with control SEB-exposed mice. Abatacept-treated mice showed significant reductions in body weight between days 4 and 9, whereas mice treated with abatacept showed no weight loss for the duration of the study, suggesting mitigation of SEB-induced morbidity. Histopathology and magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated that SEB mediated lung damage and edema, which were absent after treatment with abatacept. Analysis of plasma and lung tissues from SEB-exposed mice treated with abatacept demonstrated significantly lower levels of IL-6 and IFN-γ (p < 0.0001), which is likely to have resulted in less pathology. In addition, exposure of human and mouse PBMCs to SEB in vitro showed a significant reduction in levels of IL-2 (p < 0.0001) after treatment with abatacept, indicating that T cell proliferation is the main target for intervention. Our findings demonstrate that abatacept is a robust and potentially credible drug to prevent toxic effects from SEB exposure.
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The online version of this article contains supplemental material.
- Received September 6, 2016.
- Accepted February 11, 2017.
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