Clinical data
Trade names Orencia
AHFS/Drugs.com Monograph
MedlinePlus a606016
Routes of
Intravenous, Subcutaneous
ATC code L04AA24 (WHO)
Legal status
Legal status
  • POM (UK), ℞-only (U.S.)
Pharmacokinetic data
Biological half-life 13.1 days
CAS Number 332348-12-6 N
DrugBank DB01281 YesY
ChemSpider none
UNII 7D0YB67S97 YesY
KEGG D03203 N
 NYesY (what is this?)  (verify)

Abatacept (marketed as Orencia) is a drug used to treat autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, by interfering with the immune activity of T cells. It is a modified antibody.

Abatacept is a fusion protein composed of the Fc region of the immunoglobulin IgG1 fused to the extracellular domain of CTLA-4. In order for a T cell to be activated and produce an immune response, an antigen presenting cell must present two signals to the T cell. One of those signals is the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), combined with the antigen, and the other signal is the CD80 or CD86 molecule (also known as B7-1 and B7-2). Abatacept binds to the CD80 and CD86 molecule, and prevents the second signal. Without the second signal, the T cell can't be activated.

Abatacept was developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb and is licensed in the United States for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in the case of inadequate response to anti-TNFα therapy. Some doctors criticize its cost ($3,500 to $3,800 a month, like other biological drugs of its class) and its promotional marketing.[1]

Medical uses

Abatacept is currently approved for use in people with rheumatoid arthritis who have had an inadequate response to one or more DMARDs.[2] It is useful in delaying the progression of structural damage and reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. However, it should not be used in combination with anakinra or TNF antagonists.[3]

Clinical trials for additional indications

A team led by researchers at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has reported that treatment with abatacept (Orencia) appeared to halt the course of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) in five patients, preventing four from losing transplanted kidneys and achieving disease remission in the fifth.[4]

Abatacept had a phase III trial[5] for the treatment of patients suffering moderate to severe active ulcerative colitis, where response to standard treatment has failed to bring about remission. The trial was due to run until 2009 but after review of interim results was terminated early due to lack of efficacy.[6]

Abatacept is (As of 2008) in trial[7] for the treatment of Type 1 Diabetes. In diabetic patients in the "honeymoon phase" of the disease, Abatacept may protect surviving beta cells from autoimmune attack.[8]

Abatacept is currently in a phase II trial for Multiple Sclerosis in a joint Bristol Meyers and NIAID program.

Abatacept will be used in a trial for the treatment of Vitiligo.[9]

The ACCESS phase II clinical trial,[10][11] sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is (As of 2009) studying abatacept treatment in lupus nephritis when used in combination with cyclophosphamide therapy.

Abatacept in a subcutaneous administration form has been approved by USFDA, for self-administration by the patient.

Mechanism of action

Abatacept prevents antigen-presenting cells (APCs) from delivering the co-stimulatory signal. This prevents the T cells from being fully activated, and even downregulates them. Simple signaling without co-stimulation allows the cell to recognize the primary signal as "self" and not ramp-up responses for future responses as well.

In order for T cells to be activated and attack an antigen, that antigen must be presented to the T cell by an antigen-presenting cell (APC).

That activation requires two co-stimulatory signals:

For signal 1, the APC must bind the antigen to a major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecule, bring that complex to its surface, and present it to the T cell receptor on the surface of the T cell.

For signal 2, the APC must present a B7 protein on its cell surface to a CD28 protein on the surface of the T cell. These two signals activate the T cell. Without signal 2, the T cell will not be activated, and will become anergic.

Abatacept consists of a fusion protein of the extracellular domain of CTLA-4 and human IgG1, binds to the B7 protein on the APC and prevents it from delivering the co-stimulatory signal to the T cell.[12][13]


Abatacept is the basis for the second-generation belatacept currently being tested in clinical trials. They differ by only 2 amino acids. In organ transplantation, belatacept is intended to provide extended graft survival while limiting the toxicity generated by standard immune-suppressing regimens such as calcineurin inhibitors (for example cyclosporin).


Abatacept is a fusion protein composed of the extracellular domain of CTLA-4 with the hinge, CH2, and CH3 domains of IgG1.[3]

Similar agents


  1. Ask Your Doctor if This Ad Is Right for You. How advertising promotes expensive drugs and treatments you may not need. By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL, New York Times, FEB. 27, 2016
  2. Bristol-Myers Squibb (March 13, 2007)."ORENCIA label" (PDF). Archived March 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. (110 KiB). United States Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved on 2007-05-25.
  3. 1 2 Moreland L, Bate G, Kirkpatrick P (2006). "Abatacept". Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. 5 (3): 185–186. doi:10.1038/nrd1989. PMID 16557658.
  4. "Researchers find drug that could halt kidney failure". The Harvard Gazette. Retrieved 2014-02-23.harvard.edu.
  5. "A Study of Abatacept in Patients With Active Ulcerative Colitis". ClinicalTrials.gov. United States National Institutes of Health. May 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-25. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier NCT00410410.
  6. http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/results/NCT00410410 Ulcerative Colitis Study results
  7. "CTLA-4 Ig (Abatacept) in Recent Onset Diabetes DEAD URL". diabetestrialnet.org. TrialNet. Retrieved 2008-08-08. diabetestrialnet.org.
  8. The Lancet, Volume 378, Issue 9789, pp. 412–419, 30 July 2011 doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60886-6C
  9. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02281058 Open-label Pilot Study of Abatacept for the Treatment of Vitiligo
  10. "ACCESS clinical trial for lupus nephritis". www.lupusnephritis.org. Immune Tolerance Network. Retrieved 2009-09-14.ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier NCT00774852
  11. http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct/show/NCT00774852
  12. "ABATACEPT & BELATACEPT: the CTLA-4-Igs". Healthvalue.net. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
  13. Dall'Era M, Davis J (2004). "CTLA4Ig: a novel inhibitor of co-stimulation". Lupus. 13 (5): 372–376. doi:10.1191/0961203303lu1029oa. PMID 15230295.

External links

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