Characterisation of anifrolumab, a fully human anti-interferon receptor antagonist antibody for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus
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Objective: We investigated the mechanistic and pharmacological properties of anifrolumab, a fully human, effector-null, anti-type I interferon (IFN) alpha receptor 1 (IFNAR1) monoclonal antibody in development for SLE. Methods: IFNAR1 surface expression and internalisation on human monocytes before and after exposure to anifrolumab were assessed using confocal microscopy and flow cytometry. The effects of anifrolumab on type I IFN pathway activation were assessed using signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1) phosphorylation, IFN-stimulated response element-luciferase reporter cell assays and type I IFN gene signature induction. The ability of anifrolumab to inhibit plasmacytoid dendritic cell (pDC) function and plasma cell differentiation was assessed by flow cytometry and ELISA. Effector-null properties of anifrolumab were assessed in antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) and complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC) assays with B cells. Results: Anifrolumab reduced cell surface IFNAR1 by eliciting IFNAR1 internalisation. Anifrolumab blocked type I IFN-dependent STAT1 phosphorylation and IFN-dependent signalling induced by recombinant and pDC-derived type I IFNs and serum of patients with SLE. Anifrolumab suppressed type I IFN production by blocking the type I IFN autoamplification loop and inhibited proinflammatory cytokine induction and the upregulation of costimulatory molecules on stimulated pDCs. Blockade of IFNAR1 suppressed plasma cell differentiation in pDC/B cell co-cultures. Anifrolumab did not exhibit CDC or ADCC activity. Conclusions: Anifrolumab potently inhibits type I IFN-dependent signalling, including the type I IFN autoamplification loop, and is a promising therapeutic for patients with SLE and other diseases that exhibit chronic dysfunctional type I IFN signalling.