CD40 is a molecule present on B lymphocyte lineage cells that is important in B-cell differentiation and activation. Signaling through CD40 has been shown to exert costimulatory signals on normal B cells resulting in proliferative and differentiation responses. Examination of several B-cell lymphomas showed cell-surface expression of the CD40 molecule. Incubation of these lymphomas with anti-CD40 antibodies resulted in significant growth inhibition in vitro. Cross-linking of the CD40 antibodies resulted in even greater inhibition of proliferation. A recombinant soluble human CD40 ligand was also shown to inhibit lymphoma proliferation. When various human B-cell lymphomas were transferred into mice with severe combined immune deficiency, the treatment of the mice with anti-CD40 antibodies resulted in significant increases in survival showing that anti-CD40 is efficacious after in vivo administration. Thus, CD40 stimulation by either the antibody or soluble ligand directly inhibits human B-cell lymphoma growth and therefore, may be of significant clinical use in their treatment.

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