Therapeutic proteins can be potent agents for treating serious diseases, but in many patients these proteins provoke antibody responses that blunt therapeutic efficacy. Intravenous administration of high doses of some proteins induces immune tolerance, but the mechanisms underlying this effect are poorly understood. As a model to study tolerance induction in mice, we used rasburicase, a commercial recombinant uricase used for the treatment of hyperuricemia. Intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of rasburicase without or with alum adjuvants induced a clear anti-rasburicase antibody response, but intravenous (i.v.) injection did not. The lack of response to i.v. rasburicase was apparently due to active immune suppression since i.v.-treated mice showed blunted antibody and reduced T cell responses to subsequent i.p. injections of rasburicase. This blunted response was associated with a decrease in rasburicase-specific B cell and T cell responses and an increase in proportion of CD4+ FoxP3+ regulatory T cells (Treg) in the spleen. We examined the number of lymphocytes in peripheral blood after rasburicase i.v. injection. Rasburicase caused a transient reduction in B and T cells, but a robust and sustained depletion of rasburicase-specific B cells. Further experiments showed that rasburicase i.v. injection decreased the number of lymphocytes and was associated with apoptosis of both B cells and activated T cells and that the enhanced percentage of Treg cells was likely mediated by a macrophage-dependent pathway. Thus, our data suggest that apoptosis and depletion of antigen-specific B lymphocytes and upregulation of Treg cells may play important roles in the immune suppression induced by intravenous administration of a therapeutic protein.
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We thank Mark Kukuruga and Adovi Akue in the FDA CBER Flow Cytometric Core Facility for their helpful technical assistance.
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Xu, H., Feldman, G.M. & Max, E.E. High-Dose IV Administration of Rasburicase Suppresses Anti-rasburicase Antibodies, Depletes Rasburicase-Specific Lymphocytes, and Upregulates Treg Cells. AAPS J 22, 80 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1208/s12248-020-00461-0
- immune suppression
- therapeutic protein