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Open Access Research article

Inhibition of established collagen-induced arthritis with a tumour necrosis factor-α inhibitor expressed from a self-contained doxycycline regulated plasmid

David J Gould, Carly Bright and Yuti Chernajovsky*

Author Affiliations

Bone & Joint Research Unit, Barts and The London, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of London, London, UK

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Arthritis Res Ther 2004, 6:R103-R113  doi:10.1186/ar1036

Published: 22 December 2003

Abstract

Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α is produced by cells of the immune system and is a key mediator in immune and inflammatory reactions. Through interaction with widely expressed receptors (TNF receptor 1 and TNF receptor 2), TNF-α is able to orchestrate the expression of a range of downstream proinflammatory molecules. Over the past decade novel biologics that inhibit TNF-α have been developed as extremely effective treatments for rheumatoid arthritis. Structurally, these biologics are antibodies, or TNF receptors on an antibody backbone that bind TNF-α directly and are delivered to patients by repeated injection. Gene therapy offers an improved approach to delivering biologics as a single administration of their encoding genetic material. In the present study we demonstrate the therapeutic effect of a small molecular weight dimeric TNF receptor 2 (dTNFR) constitutively expressed from plasmid DNA, delivered intramuscularly with electroporation, after disease onset in a collagen-induced arthritis model. Regulated promoters that enable the production of a transgene to be controlled are more suited to the application of gene therapy in the clinic. Regulated expression of dTNFR from the plasmid pGTRTT was also therapeutic in the mouse collagen-induced arthritis model when the inducer doxycycline was also administered, whereas no therapeutic effect was observed in the absence of doxycycline. The therapeutic effect of dTNFR expressed from a constitutive or regulated plasmid was dependent on the degree of disease activity at the time of DNA injection. The observations of this study are considered with regard to the disease model, the magnitude of gene regulation, and the path to clinical application.

Keywords:
arthritis; doxycycline; gene therapy; regulated expression; tumour necrosis factor-α