Thérapie ciblée anti-OX40 Ligand dans des modèles murins de Sclérodermie systémique

Abstract : Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is an autoimmune orphan disease which is characterized by alterations of the microvasculature and fibrosis affecting the skin and internal organs. SSc is the most severe connective tissue disease associated with a high risk of mortality. Until now, there is no effective treatment to counteract the fibrotic process and to improve the prognosis of this disease. SSc results from the combination of genetic and environmental factors. TNFSF4 was recently identified as a genetic risk factor for SSc. TNFSF4 encodes OX40L, which is involved in late T-cell co-stimulatory signals, but also in generation and reactivation of memory T cells and promotion of plasma cell phenotype. OX40L blockade was effective in reducing clinical symptoms in several animal models of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, asthma or graft-versus-host-disease. The anti-OX40L antibody presents the advantage of a targeted therapy against pathogenic recently activated T cells, which might not expose patients to increased risk of infections, unlike other conventional immunosuppressants. Following the observation of an increased expression of OX40L in fibrotic skin in SSc-patients, we aimed to investigate the contribution of OX40L in SSc and to assess the efficacy of a targeted therapy against OX40L in SSc, using complementary experimental mouse models. First, we characterized the optimum in vivo parameters required for the successful induction of dermal fibrosis in the widely used bleomycin-induced dermal fibrosis mouse model, which is usually the first step in most of pharmacological studies assessing anti-fibrotic therapies. We also aimed to determine whether ultrasonography could be used to assess skin fibrosis in this model, but our results showed that it was not efficient enough to assess dermal thickening in this model. Invalidation of OX40L prevented dermal fibrosis in the bleomycin mouse model. Then pharmacologic approaches, using a monoclonal anti-OX40L antibody, demonstrate that blockade of OX40L not only prevented dermal fibrosis, but also induced regression of established fibrosis in this model. We also showed that OX40L acts directly on both dermal fibroblasts and inflammatory cells and on cytokine release (IL-6, TNF-α), by regulating NF kappa B and AP 1 pathways. We observed that OX40L inhibition interfered with early inflammatory stages of matrix remodeling using the excisional wound healing mouse model. Conversely, blocking OX40L did not display antifibrotic properties in the non-inflammatory Tsk-1 mouse model. Given that interstitial lung involvement and pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) are key prognostic factors in SSc, we aimed to assess the effects of OX40L pharmacological inhibition in a new murine model: the fra-2 transgenic mice, which are characterized by both fibrosing alveolitis and PAH. In this model, using both CT-scan and histology, we demonstrated that mice treated by anti-OX40L antibody were markedly protected from fibrosing alveolitis and vessel remodeling leading to PAH. Furthermore, longitudinal analyses of our cohort of SSc-patients showed that soluble OX40L is a promising serum biomarker to predict the worsening of lung and skin fibrosis. Altogether, our results show that OX40L is as an attractive target in inflammation-driven fibrosis. This work also strengthens the relation between inflammation and fibrosis in SSc-pathogenesis. This work underlines advantages of combination of several animal models in translational approach to SSc.
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Muriel Elhai. Thérapie ciblée anti-OX40 Ligand dans des modèles murins de Sclérodermie systémique. Immunologie. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2015. Français. ⟨NNT : 2015USPCB077⟩. ⟨tel-01409707⟩

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