The main stream of CD137 studies has been directed to the function of CD137 in CD8(+) T-cell immunity, including its anti-tumor activity, and paradoxically the immunosuppressive activity of CD137, which proves to be of a great therapeutic potential for animal models of a variety of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Recent studies, however, add complexes to the biology of CD137. Accumulating is evidence supporting that there exists a bidirectional signal transduction pathway for the CD137 receptor and its ligand (CD137L). CD137/CD137L interactions are involved in the network of hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic cells in addition to the well characterized antigen-presenting cell-T cell interactions. Signaling through CD137L plays a critical role in the differentiation of myeloid cells and their cellular activities, suggesting that CD137L signals trigger and sustain inflammation. The overall consequence might be that the amplified inflammation by CD137L enhances the T-cell activity together with CD137 signals by upregulating costimulatory molecules, MHC molecules, cell adhesion molecules, cytokines, and chemokines. Solving this outstanding issue is urgent and will have an important clinical implication.
Kwon, B. (2009). CD137-CD137 Ligand Interactions in Inflammation. Immune Network, 9(3), 84. https://doi.org/10.4110/in.2009.9.3.84