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J Immunol. 2002 Jan 15;168(2):883-9.

Selective intracellular delivery of dexamethasone into activated endothelial cells using an E-selectin-directed immunoconjugate.

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Department of Pharmacokinetics, Groningen University Institute for Drug Exploration, Groningen, The Netherlands.


In chronic inflammatory diseases, the endothelium is an attractive target for pharmacological intervention because it plays an important role in leukocyte recruitment. Hence, inhibition of endothelial cell activation and consequent leukocyte infiltration may improve therapeutic outcome in these diseases. We report on a drug targeting strategy for the selective delivery of the anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone to activated endothelial cells, using an E-selectin-directed drug-Ab conjugate. Dexamethasone was covalently attached to an anti-E-selectin Ab, resulting in the so-called dexamethasone-anti-E-selectin conjugate. Binding of the conjugate to E-selectin was studied using surface plasmon resonance and immunohistochemistry. Furthermore, internalization of the conjugate was studied using confocal laser scanning microscopy and immuno-transmission electron microscopy. It was demonstrated that the dexamethasone-anti-E-selectin conjugate, like the unmodified anti-E-selectin Ab, selectively bound to TNF-alpha-stimulated endothelial cells and not to resting endothelial cells. After binding, the conjugate was internalized and routed to multivesicular bodies, which is a lysosome-related cellular compartment. After intracellular degradation, pharmacologically active dexamethasone was released, as shown in endothelial cells that were transfected with a glucocorticoid-responsive reporter gene. Furthermore, intracellularly delivered dexamethasone was able to down-regulate the proinflammatory gene IL-8. In conclusion, this study demonstrates the possibility to selectively deliver the anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone into activated endothelial cells, using an anti-E-selectin Ab as a carrier molecule.

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