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Targeting Costimulatory Pathways in Systemic Sclerosis

Abstract : Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is an autoimmune T-cell disease that is characterized by pathological fibrosis of the skin and internal organs. SSc is considered a prototype condition for studying the links between autoimmunity and fibrosis. Costimulatory pathways such as CD28/CTLA-4, ICOS-B7RP1, CD70-CD27, CD40-CD154, or OX40-OX40L play an essential role in the modulation of T-cell and inflammatory immune responses. A growing body of evidence suggests that T-cell costimulation signals might be implicated in the pathogenesis of SSc. CD28, CTLA-4, ICOS, and OX40L are overexpressed in patients with SSc, particularly in patients with cutaneous diffuse forms. In pre-clinical models of SSc, T-cell costimulation blockade with abatacept (CTLA-4-Ig) prevented and induced the regression of inflammation-driven dermal fibrosis, improved digestive involvement, prevented lung fibrosis, and attenuated pulmonary hypertension in complementary models of SSc. Likewise, potent anti-fibrotic effects were seen with the blockade of OX40L by reducing the infiltration of inflammatory cells into lesional tissues leading to decreased fibroblast activation. Concerning clinical effects, a preliminary observational study suggested some effectiveness of abatacept on inflammatory joint involvement, whereas clinical improvement of skin fibrosis was observed in a small placebo-controlled randomized trial. Currently there is one ongoing phase II clinical trial assessing the efficacy of abatacept in SSc (ASSET trial, NCT02161406). Overall, given the lack of available effective agents and the known toxic effects of immunosuppressive agents approved for use in SSc, costimulatory pathways offer the advantage of a targeted approach to costimulatory signals and potentially a better safety profile.
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Gonçalo Boleto, Yannick Allanore, Jérôme Avouac. Targeting Costimulatory Pathways in Systemic Sclerosis. Frontiers in Immunology, Frontiers, 2018, 9, ⟨10.3389/fimmu.2018.02998⟩. ⟨hal-02134109⟩

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