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Am J Pathol. 2010 Jun;176(6):2840-7. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2010.091227. Epub 2010 Apr 22.

4SC-101, a novel small molecule dihydroorotate dehydrogenase inhibitor, suppresses systemic lupus erythematosus in MRL-(Fas)lpr mice.

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Medizinische Poliklinik-Innenstadt, University of Munich, Munich, Germany.


Immunosuppressive treatments of systemic lupus (SLE) remain associated with significant toxicities; hence, compounds with better toxicity profiles are needed. Dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) inhibition with leflunomide has proven to be effective in autoimmune diseases including SLE, but leflunomide can cause a variety of side effects. We hypothesized that 4SC-101, a novel DHODH inhibitor with a more favorable toxicity profile, would be as effective as high-dose cyclophosphamide (CYC) in controlling experimental SLE of female MRL(Fas)lpr mice. Daily oral gavage of 30, 100, and 300 mg/kg 4SC-101 from 12 to 22 weeks of age was compared with either vehicle or CYC treatment (30 mg/kg/week, i.p.) in terms of efficacy and toxicity. Three hundred milligrams per kilogram 4SC-101 was as effective as CYC in depleting spleen autoreactive T cells, B cells, and plasma cells as well as the respective DNA and RNA serum autoantibodies. This was associated with a comparable amelioration of the renal, dermal, and pulmonary SLE manifestations of MRL(Fas)lpr mice. However, even the highest dose of 4SC-101 had no effect on bone marrow neutrophil counts, which were significantly reduced in CYC-treated mice. Together, the novel DHODH inhibitor 4SC-101 is as effective as high dose CYC in controlling SLE without causing myelosuppression. Hence, DHODH inhibition with 4SC-101 might be suitable to treat active SLE with fewer side effects than CYC.


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