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Arthritis Res Ther. 2003;5(5):R301-9. Epub 2003 Aug 1.

A comparative study of the inhibitory effects of interleukin-1 receptor antagonist following administration as a recombinant protein or by gene transfer.

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Center for Molecular Orthopaedics, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Anakinra, the recombinant form of IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra), has been approved for clinical use in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis as the drug Kineret trade mark, but it must be administered daily by subcutaneous injection. Gene transfer may offer a more effective means of delivery. In this study, using prostaglandin E2 production as a measure of stimulation, we quantitatively compared the ability of anakinra, as well as that of IL-1Ra delivered by gene transfer, to inhibit the biologic actions of IL-1beta. Human synovial fibroblast cultures were incubated with a range of doses of anakinra or HIG-82 cells genetically modified to constitutively express IL-1Ra. The cultures were then challenged with recombinant human IL-1beta either simultaneously with addition of the source of IL-1Ra or 24 hours later. In a similar manner, the potencies of the two sources of IL-1Ra were compared when human synovial fibroblasts were challenged with IL-1beta produced constitutively by genetically modified cells. No significant difference in inhibitory activity was observed between recombinant protein and IL-1Ra provided by the genetically modified cells, under static culture conditions, even following incubation for 4 days. However, under culture conditions that provided progressive dilution of the culture media, striking differences between these methods of protein delivery became readily apparent. Constitutive synthesis of IL-1Ra by the genetically modified cells provided sustained or increased protection from IL-1 stimulation over time, whereas the recombinant protein became progressively less effective. This was particularly evident under conditions of continuous IL-1beta synthesis.

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