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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2011 Nov;339(2):618-23. doi: 10.1124/jpet.111.185876. Epub 2011 Aug 10.

Neuroprotection with a brain-penetrating biologic tumor necrosis factor inhibitor.

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Department of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA.


Biologic tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α inhibitors do not cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). A BBB-penetrating TNF-α inhibitor was engineered by fusion of the extracellular domain of the type II human TNF receptor (TNFR) to the carboxyl terminus of the heavy chain of a mouse/rat chimeric monoclonal antibody (MAb) against the mouse transferrin receptor (TfR), and this fusion protein is designated cTfRMAb-TNFR. The cTfRMAb-TNFR fusion protein and etanercept bound human TNF-α with high affinity and K(D) values of 374 ± 77 and 280 ± 80 pM, respectively. Neuroprotection in brain in vivo after intravenous administration of the fusion protein was examined in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease. Mice were also treated with saline or a non-BBB-penetrating TNF decoy receptor, etanercept. After intracerebral injection of the nigral-striatal toxin, 6-hydroxydopamine, mice were treated every other day for 3 weeks. Treatment with the cTfRMAb-TNFR fusion protein caused an 83% decrease in apomorphine-induced rotation, a 67% decrease in amphetamine-induced rotation, a 82% increase in vibrissae-elicited forelimb placing, and a 130% increase in striatal tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) enzyme activity. In contrast, chronic treatment with etanercept, which does not cross the BBB, had no effect on neurobehavior or striatal TH enzyme activity. A bridging enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay specific for the cTfRMAb-TNFR fusion protein showed that the immune response generated in the mice was low titer. In conclusion, a biologic TNF inhibitor is neuroprotective after intravenous administration in a mouse model of neurodegeneration, providing that the TNF decoy receptor is reengineered to cross the BBB.

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