Targeting Notch signaling in autoimmune and lymphoproliferative disease.

David T Teachey, Alix E Seif, Valerie I Brown, Marlo Bruno, Ralph M Bunte, Yueh J Chang, John K Choi, Jonathan D Fish, Junior Hall, Gregor S Reid, Theresa Ryan, Cecilia Sheen, Patrick Zweidler-McKay, Stephan a Grupp
Patients with autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome (ALPS) and systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE) have T-cell dysregulation and produce abnormal, activated T lymphocytes and an atypical peripheral T-cell population, termed double negative T cells (DNTs). T-cell functions, including DNT transition in T-cell development and T-cell activation, are critically dependent on Notch signaling. We hypothesized that inhibiting Notch signaling would be effective in ALPS and SLE by reducing the production of abnormal DNTs and by blocking aberrant T-cell activation. We tested this hypothesis using murine models of ALPS and SLE. Mice were randomized to treatment with the notch pathway inhibitor (gamma-secretase inhibitor), N-S-phenyl-glycine-t-butyl ester (DAPT), or vehicle control. Response to treatment was assessed by measurement of DNTs in blood and lymphoid tissue, by monitoring lymph node and spleen size with ultrasound, by quantifying cytokines by bead-array, by ELISA for total IgG and anti-double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) specific antibodies, and by histopathologic assessment for nephritis. We found a profound and statistically significant decrease in all disease parameters, comparing DAPT-treated mice to controls. Using a novel dosing schema, we avoided the reported toxicities of gamma-secretase inhibitors. Inhibiting the Notch signaling pathway may thus present an effective, novel, and well-tolerated treatment for autoimmune and lymphoproliferative diseases.

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