Modulation of blood inflammatory markers by benralizumab in patients with eosinophilic airway diseases
Benralizumab, a humanized, afucosylated, monoclonal antibody that targets interleukin-5 receptor α, depletes eosinophils and basophils by enhanced antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity. It demonstrated efficacy for patients with moderate to severe asthma and, in a Phase IIa trial, for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) with eosinophilic inflammation. We investigated effects of benralizumab 100 mg every 8 weeks (first three doses every 4 weeks) subcutaneous on blood
... n blood inflammatory markers through proteomic and geneexpression analyses collected during two Phase II studies of patients with eosinophilic asthma and eosinophilic COPD. Methods: Serum samples for proteomic analysis and whole blood for gene expression analysis were collected at baseline and 52 weeks (asthma study) or 32 weeks (COPD study) post-treatment. Proteomic analyses were conducted on a custom set of 90 and 147 Rules-Based Medicine analytes for asthma and COPD, respectively. Gene expression was profiled by Affymetrix Human Genome U133 plus 2 arrays (~54 K probes). Gene set variation analysis (GSVA) was used to determine transcriptomic activity of immune signatures. Treatment-related differences between analytes, genes, and gene signatures were analyzed for the overall population and for patient subgroups stratified by baseline blood eosinophil count (eosinophil-high [≥300 cells/μL] and eosinophil-low [< 300 cells/μL]) via t-test and repeated measures analysis of variance. Results: Eosinophil chemokines eotaxin-1 and eotaxin-2 were significantly upregulated (false discovery rate [FDR] < 0.05) by approximately 2.1-and 1.4-fold in the asthma study and by 2.3-and 1.7-fold in the COPD study following benralizumab treatment. Magnitude of upregulation of these two chemokines was greater for eosinophil-high patients than eosinophil-low patients in both studies. Benralizumab was associated with significant reductions (FDR < 0.05) in expression of genes associated with eosinophils and basophils, such as CLC, IL-5Rα, and PRSS33; immunesignaling complex genes (FCER1A); G-protein-coupled receptor genes (HRH4, ADORA3, P2RY14); and further immune-related genes (ALOX15 and OLIG2). The magnitude of downregulation of gene expression was greater for eosinophil-high than eosinophil-low patients. GSVA on immune signatures indicated significant treatment reductions (FDR < 0.05) in eosinophil-associated signatures. Conclusions: Benralizumab is highly selective, modulating blood proteins or genes associated with eosinophils or basophils. Modulated protein and gene expression patterns are most prominently altered in eosinophilhigh vs. eosinophil-low patients. Trial registration: NCT01227278 and NCT01238861.