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J Biol Chem. 2012 Mar 30;287(14):11090-7. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.319764. Epub 2012 Jan 31.

Increasing serum half-life and extending cholesterol lowering in vivo by engineering antibody with pH-sensitive binding to PCSK9.

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Rinat-Pfizer Inc., South San Francisco, California 94080, USA.


Target-mediated clearance and high antigen load can hamper the efficacy and dosage of many antibodies. We show for the first time that the mouse, cynomolgus, and human cross-reactive, antagonistic anti-proprotein convertase substilisin kexin type 9 (PCSK9) antibodies J10 and the affinity-matured and humanized J16 exhibit target-mediated clearance, resulting in dose-dependent pharmacokinetic profiles. These antibodies prevent the degradation of low density lipoprotein receptor, thus lowering serum levels of LDL-cholesterol and potently reducing serum cholesterol in mice, and selectively reduce LDL-cholesterol in cynomolgus monkeys. In order to increase the pharmacokinetic and efficacy of this promising therapeutic for hypercholesterolemia, we engineered pH-sensitive binding to mouse, cynomolgus, and human PCSK9 into J16, resulting in J17. This antibody shows prolonged half-life and increased duration of cholesterol lowering in two species in vivo by binding to endogenous PCSK9 in mice and cynomolgus monkeys, respectively. The proposed mechanism of this pH-sensitive antibody is that it binds with high affinity to PCSK9 in the plasma at pH 7.4, whereas the antibody-antigen complex dissociates at the endosomal pH of 5.5-6.0 in order to escape from target-mediated degradation. Additionally, this enables the antibody to bind to another PCSK9 and therefore increase the antigen-binding cycles. Furthermore, we show that this effect is dependent on the neonatal Fc receptor, which rescues the dissociated antibody in the endosome from degradation. Engineered pH-sensitive antibodies may enable less frequent or lower dosing of antibodies hampered by target-mediated clearance and high antigen load.

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