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AI-14 Repository corticotropin injection (H.P. acthar gel®) reverses critical elements of the TLR9/anti-IGM response in human B cells in vitro
  1. Nancy J Olsen1,
  2. Ann L Benko1,
  3. Carl A McAloose1,
  4. Patrice M Becker2,
  5. Dale Wright2,
  6. Teresa Sunyer2,
  7. Yuka Imamura Kawasawa3 and
  8. William J Kovacs4
  1. 1Division of Rheumatology, The Pennsylvania State University, College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA
  2. 2Science and Technology, Mallinckrodt ARD, Inc. Bedminster, New Jersey USA
  3. 3Departments of Pharmacology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Institute for Personalized Medicine, The Pennsylvania State University, College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA
  4. 4Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA


Background Signaling through Toll-Like Receptor 9 (TLR9) is a central event in the activation of normal B cells and in the production of pathogenic autoantibodies in diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We sought evidence for direct effects of repository corticotropin injection (RCI; H.P. Acthar® Gel), an FDA-approved treatment for selected cases of SLE, on isolated human B lymphocytes activated in vitro by engagement of TLR9 and the B cell receptor.

Methods CD19+ B cells from healthy volunteers (n=3) were activated in vitro with the TLR9 ligand ODN 2395 and anti-IgM. RCI was added to cultures at concentrations over a 20-fold range (controls received equal volumes of placebo gel). Messenger RNA was isolated from cells after one day in culture and cDNA libraries were prepared for multiplexed high-throughput sequencing on an Illumina HiSeq 2500. Analyses of RNA-Seq reads utilized Illumina CASAVA pipeline Version 1.8. RUVSeq R package v3.1 and edgeR were used to identify differentially expressed genes in paired comparisons between unstimulated and TLR9/anti-IgM activated cells and between activated cells treated with RCI and placebo.

Results Treatment of B cells in steroid-free medium with ODN 2395/anti-IgM- resulted in significant, reproducible induction of 162 distinct mRNAs (mean induction=8.87±0.95 fold; range=2.5–118.3-fold) and suppression of 80 mRNAs (mean suppression to 21.8%±0.8% of baseline; range=6% to 39% of baseline). RCI treatment resulted in significant, reproducible suppression of 13 of the ODN 2395/αIgM -induced mRNAs (mean suppression to 23.6%±3.1% of stimulated value; range 9.9% to 41.2%). The RCI-suppressed mRNAs included two key regulators of class switch recombination, AICDA and BATF3. RCI treatment resulted in significant, reproducible induction of 5 of the ODN 2395/αIgM -suppressed mRNAs (mean induction by RCI=7.65±2.34 fold; range=4.7 to 16.9-fold). The RCI-induced mRNAs included SLAM family member Ly9, a cell surface receptor capable of inhibiting autoantibody responses. No ODN 2395/αIgM -induced mRNAs were further increased after RCI treatment and no ODN 2395/αIgM -suppressed mRNAs were further reduced after RCI treatment (p=0.0002; Fisher’s exact test).

Conclusions RCI treatment of human B cells cultured under steroid-free conditions and activated with TLR9 agonist ligand and B cell receptor stimulation resulted in reversal of key elements of the mRNA activation response. Whether these effects are related to clinical actions of RCI in SLE will be of interest for future investigation.

Acknowledgements These studies were supported by a research grant (to NJO) from Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals. Dale Wright, Teresa Sunyer and Patrice Becker are employees of Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals.

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