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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A highly selective, orally active inhibitor of Janus kinase 2, CEP-33779, ablates disease in two mouse models of rheumatoid arthritis

Kristine L Stump, Lily D Lu, Pawel Dobrzanski, Cynthia Serdikoff, Diane E Gingrich, Ben J Dugan, Thelma S Angeles, Mark S Albom, Mark A Ator, Bruce D Dorsey, Bruce A Ruggeri and Matthew M Seavey*

Author Affiliations

Cephalon, Inc., Research Drug Discovery, 145 Brandywine Parkway, Building 200, West Chester, PA 19380-4249, USA

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2011, 13:R68  doi:10.1186/ar3329

Published: 21 April 2011

Abstract

Introduction

Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) is involved in the downstream activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and STAT5 and is responsible for transducing signals for several proinflammatory cytokines involved in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), including interleukin (IL)-6, interferon γ (IFNγ) and IL-12. In this paper, we describe the efficacy profile of CEP-33779, a highly selective, orally active, small-molecule inhibitor of JAK2 evaluated in two mouse models of RA.

Methods

Collagen antibody-induced arthritis (CAIA) and collagen type II (CII)-induced arthritis (CIA) were established before the oral administration of a small-molecule JAK2 inhibitor, CEP-33779, twice daily at 10 mg/kg, 30 mg/kg, 55 mg/kg or 100 mg/kg over a period of 4 to 8 weeks.

Results

Pharmacodynamic inhibition of JAK2 reduced mean paw edema and clinical scores in both CIA and CAIA models of arthritis. Reduction in paw cytokines (IL-12, IFNγ and tumor necrosis factor α) and serum cytokines (IL-12 and IL-2) correlated with reduced spleen CII-specific T helper 1 cell frequencies as measured by ex vivo IFNγ enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot assay. Both models demonstrated histological evidence of disease amelioration upon treatment (for example, reduced matrix erosion, subchondral osteolysis, pannus formation and synovial inflammation) and reduced paw phosphorylated STAT3 levels. No changes in body weight or serum anti-CII autoantibody titers were observed in either RA model.

Conclusions

This study demonstrates the utility of using a potent and highly selective, orally bioavailable JAK2 inhibitor for the treatment of RA. Using a selective inhibitor of JAK2 rather than pan-JAK inhibitors avoids the potential complication of immunosuppression while targeting critical signaling pathways involved in autoimmune disease progression.