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Arthritis Rheumatol. 2015 Jul;67(7):1858-67. doi: 10.1002/art.39119.

The Topoisomerase I Inhibitor Irinotecan and the Tyrosyl-DNA Phosphodiesterase 1 Inhibitor Furamidine Synergistically Suppress Murine Lupus Nephritis.

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University Hospital Berne, Berne, Switzerland.
University of Berne, Berne, Switzerland.



The treatment of lupus nephritis is still an unmet medical need requiring new therapeutic approaches. Our group found recently that irinotecan, an inhibitor of topoisomerase I (topo I), reversed proteinuria and prolonged survival in mice with advanced lupus nephritis. While irinotecan is known to stabilize the complex of topo I and DNA, the enzyme tyrosyl-DNA phosphodiesterase 1 (TDP-1) functions in an opposing manner by releasing topo I from DNA. Therefore, we undertook this study to test whether the TDP-1 inhibitor furamidine has an additional effect on lupus nephritis when used in combination with irinotecan.


NZB/NZW mice were treated with low-dose irinotecan and furamidine either alone or in combination beginning at age 26 weeks. DNA relaxation was visualized using gel electrophoresis. Binding of anti-double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) antibodies to DNA modified by topo I, TDP-1, and the topo I inhibitor camptothecin was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.


Compared to treatment with either agent alone, simultaneous treatment with low-dose irinotecan and furamidine significantly improved survival of NZB/NZW mice. Similar to what has been previously shown for irinotecan alone, the combination treatment did not change the levels of anti-dsDNA antibodies. In vitro, recombinant TDP-1 increased topo I-mediated DNA relaxation, resulting in enhanced binding of anti-dsDNA antibodies. In combination with topo I and camptothecin, TDP-1 reversed the inhibitory effects of camptothecin on DNA relaxation and anti-dsDNA binding.


Affecting DNA relaxation by the enzymes topo I and TDP-1 and their inhibitors may be a promising approach for the development of new targeted therapies for systemic lupus erythematosus.

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