Baricitinib-Associated changes in global gene expression during a 24-week phase II clinical systemic lupus erythematosus trial implicates a mechanism of action through multiple immune-related pathways

Thomas Dörner, Yoshiya Tanaka, Michelle A. Petri, Josef S. Smolen, Daniel J. Wallace, Ernst R. Dow, Richard E. Higgs, Guilherme Rocha, Brenda Crowe, Robert J. Benschop, Nicole L. Byers, Maria E. Silk, Stephanie De Bono, Damiano Fantini, Robert W. Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective To characterise the molecular pathways impacted by the pharmacologic effects of the Janus kinase (JAK) 1 and JAK2 inhibitor baricitinib in SLE. Methods In a phase II, 24-week, randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind study (JAHH), RNA was isolated from whole blood in 274 patients and analysed using Affymetrix HTA2.0 array. Serum cytokines were measured using ultrasensitive quantitative assays. Results Gene expression profiling demonstrated an elevation of STAT1, STAT2 and multiple interferon (IFN) responsive genes at baseline in patients with SLE. Statistical and gene network analyses demonstrated that baricitinib treatment reduced the mRNA expression of functionally interconnected genes involved in SLE including STAT1-Target, STAT2-Target and STAT4-Target genes and multiple IFN responsive genes. At baseline, serum cytokines IFN-α, IFN- 3, interleukin (IL)-12p40 and IL-6 were measurable and elevated above healthy controls. Treatment with baricitinib significantly decreased serum IL-12p40 and IL-6 cytokine levels at week 12, which persisted through week 24. Conclusion Baricitinib treatment induced significant reduction in the RNA expression of a network of genes associated with the JAK/STAT pathway, cytokine signalling and SLE pathogenesis. Baricitinib consistently reduced serum levels of two key cytokines implicated in SLE pathogenesis, IL-12p40 and IL-6.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere000424
JournalLupus Science and Medicine
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 9 2020

Keywords

  • autoimmune diseases
  • cytokines
  • lupus erythematosus
  • systemic
  • therapeutics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology

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