Interpreting Lymphocyte Reconstitution Data From the Pivotal Phase 3 Trials of Alemtuzumab.
ABSTRACT: Alemtuzumab, a CD52-depleting monoclonal antibody, effectively inhibits relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) but is associated with a high incidence of secondary B-cell autoimmunities that limit use. These effects may be avoided through control of B-cell hyperproliferation.To investigate whether the data describing the effect of alemtuzumab on lymphocyte subsets collected during the phase 3 trial program reveal mechanisms explaining efficacy and the risk for secondary autoimmunity with treatment of MS.Lymphocyte reconstitution data from regulatory submissions of the pivotal Comparison of Alemtuzumab and Rebif Efficacy in Multiple Sclerosis I and II (CARE-MS I and II) trials were obtained from the European Medicines Agency via Freedom of Information requests. Data used in this study were reported from June 22 to October 12, 2016.Tabulated data from T- and B-lymphocyte subset analysis and antidrug antibody responses were extracted from the supplied documents.Alemtuzumab depleted CD4+ T cells by more than 95%, including regulatory cells (-80%) and CD8+ T cells (>80% depletion), which remained well below reference levels throughout the trials. However, although CD19+ B cells were initially also depleted (>85%), marked (180% increase) hyperrepopulation of immature B cells occurred with conversion to mature B cells over time. These lymphocyte kinetics were associated with rapid development of alemtuzumab-binding and -neutralizing antibodies and subsequent occurrence of secondary B-cell autoimmunity. Hyperrepopulation of B cells masked a marked, long-term depletion of CD19+ memory B cells that may underpin efficacy in MS.Although blockade of memory T and B cells may limit MS, rapid CD19+ B-cell subset repopulation in the absence of effective T-cell regulation has implications for the safety and efficacy of alemtuzumab. Controlling B-cell proliferation until T-cell regulation recovers may limit secondary autoimmunity, which does not occur with other B-cell-depleting agents.
Project description:Phase II clinical trials revealed that the lymphocyte-depleting humanized monoclonal antibody alemtuzumab (Campath-1H) is highly effective in the treatment of early relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. However, 30% of patients develop autoimmunity months to years after pulsed exposure to alemtuzumab, usually targeting the thyroid gland and, more rarely, blood components. In this study, we show that autoimmunity arose in those patients with greater T cell apoptosis and cell cycling in response to alemtuzumab-induced lymphocyte depletion, a phenomenon that is driven by higher levels of IL-21. Before treatment, patients who went on to develop secondary autoimmunity had more than 2-fold greater levels of serum IL-21 than the nonautoimmune group. We suggest that serum IL-21 may, therefore, serve as a biomarker for the risk of developing autoimmunity months to years after alemtuzumab treatment. This has implications for counseling those patients with multiple sclerosis who are considering lymphocyte-depleting therapy with alemtuzumab. Finally, we demonstrate through genotyping that IL-21 expression is genetically predetermined. We propose that, by driving cycles of T cell expansion and apoptosis to excess, IL-21 increases the stochastic opportunities for T cells to encounter self antigen and, hence, for autoimmunity.
Project description:The objective was to determine whether CD52 lymphocyte depletion can act to promote immunological tolerance induction by way of intravenous antigen administration such that it could be used to either improve efficiency of multiple sclerosis (MS) inhibition or inhibit secondary autoimmunities that may occur following alemtuzumab use in MS. Relapsing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis was induced in ABH mice and immune cell depletion was therapeutically applied using mouse CD52 or CD4 (in conjunction with CD8 or CD20) depleting monoclonal antibodies. Immunological unresponsiveness was then subsequently induced using intravenous central nervous system antigens and responses were assessed clinically. A dose-response of CD4 monoclonal antibody depletion indicated that the 60-70% functional CD4 T-cell depletion achieved in perceived failed trials in MS was perhaps too low to even stop disease in animals. However, more marked (~75-90%) physical depletion of CD4 T cells by CD4 and CD52 depleting antibodies inhibited relapsing disease. Surprisingly, in contrast to CD4 depletion, CD52 depletion blocked robust immunological unresponsiveness through a mechanism involving CD8 T cells. Although efficacy was related to the level of CD4 T-cell depletion, the observations that CD52 depletion of CD19 B cells was less marked in lymphoid organs than in the blood provides a rationale for the rapid B-cell hyper-repopulation that occurs following alemtuzumab administration in MS. That B cells repopulate in the relative absence of T-cell regulatory mechanisms that promote immune tolerance may account for the secondary B-cell autoimmunities, which occur following alemtuzumab treatment of MS.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:To examine the association between peripheral blood lymphocyte pharmacodynamics and autoimmune adverse events (AEs) or return of disease activity in alemtuzumab-treated patients with relapsing-remitting MS. METHODS:Patients received 2 alemtuzumab courses (12 mg/d IV; 5 days at baseline, 3 days 12 months later) in the 2-year Comparison of Alemtuzumab and Rebif Efficacy in Multiple Sclerosis studies (NCT00530348 and NCT00548405) and could then receive as-needed alemtuzumab or other disease-modifying therapy in a 4-year extension (NCT00930553). Lymphocytes were phenotyped quarterly over 2 years using fluorescence-activated cell sorting. Pharmacodynamic assessments included counts of total lymphocytes, CD3+ T cells, CD4+/CD8+ T cells (total/naive/memory/regulatory [Treg]), and CD19+ B cells (total/immature/mature/memory) and ratios of CD19+ (total/immature/mature/memory) to Treg (CD4+/CD8+) counts. Assessed autoimmune AEs included immune thrombocytopenia, nephropathies, and thyroid events. Efficacy assessments included relapses, 6-month confirmed disability worsening (CDW), and MRI disease activity. RESULTS:Lymphocyte repopulation patterns, including ratios between distinct lymphocyte subsets (e.g., CD19+ to Treg cell count ratios), showed no significant differences over 2 years in patients developing/not developing autoimmune AEs, relapses, CDW, or MRI activity through 6 years following alemtuzumab. Lymphocyte kinetics were also unrelated to multiple autoimmune AEs or extreme clinical phenotypes. CONCLUSIONS:Repopulation kinetics of the evaluated peripheral lymphocyte subsets did not predict autoimmune AE occurrence or disease activity, including return of disease activity after 2 alemtuzumab courses. Further study is needed to investigate potential antigen-level markers of treatment response.
Project description:The association between lymphopenia and autoimmunity is recognized, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood and have not been studied systematically in humans. People with multiple sclerosis treated with the lymphocyte-depleting monoclonal antibody alemtuzumab offer a unique opportunity to study this phenomenon; one in three people develops clinical autoimmunity, and one in three people develops asymptomatic autoantibodies after treatment. Here, we show that T-cell recovery after alemtuzumab is driven by homeostatic proliferation, leading to the generation of chronically activated (CD28(-)CD57(+)), highly proliferative (Ki67(+)), oligoclonal, memory-like CD4 and CD8 T cells (CCR7(-)CD45RA(-) or CCR7(-)CD45RA(+)) capable of producing proinflammatory cytokines. Individuals who develop autoimmunity after treatment are no more lymphopenic than their nonautoimmune counterparts, but they show reduced thymopoiesis and generate a more restricted T-cell repertoire. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that homeostatic proliferation drives lymphopenia-associated autoimmunity in humans.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:To characterize long-term repopulation of peripheral immune cells following alemtuzumab-induced lymphopenia in relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), with a focus on regulatory cell types, and to explore associations with clinical outcome measures. METHODS:The project was designed as a multicenter add-on longitudinal mechanistic study for RRMS patients enrolled in CARE-MS II, CARE-MS II extension at the University of Southern California and Stanford University, and an investigator-initiated study conducted at the Universities of British Columbia and Chicago. Methods involved collection of blood at baseline, prior to alemtuzumab administration, and at months 5, 11, 17, 23, 36, and 48 post-treatment. T cell, B cell, and natural killer (NK) cell subsets, chemokine receptor expression in T cells, in vitro cytokine secretion patterns, and regulatory T cell (Treg) function were assessed. Clinical outcomes, including expanded disability status score (EDSS), relapses, conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measures, and incidents of secondary autoimmunity were tracked. RESULTS:Variable shifts in lymphocyte populations occurred over time in favor of CD4+ T cells, B cells, and NK cells with surface phenotypes characteristic of regulatory subsets, accompanied by reduced ratios of effector to regulatory cell types. Evidence of increased Treg competence was observed after each treatment course. CD4+ and CD8+ T cells that express CXCR3 and CCR5 and CD8+ T cells that express CDR3 and CCR4 were also enriched after treatment, indicating heightened trafficking potential in activated T cells. Patterns of repopulation were not associated with measures of clinical efficacy or secondary autoimmunity, but exploratory analyses using a random generalized estimating equation (GEE) Poisson model provide preliminary evidence of associations between pro-inflammatory cell types and increased risk for gadolinium (Gd+) enhancing lesions, while regulatory subsets were associated with reduced risk. In addition, the risk for T2 lesions correlated with increases in CD3+CD8+CXCR3+ cells. CONCLUSIONS:Lymphocyte repopulation after alemtuzumab treatment favors regulatory subsets in the T cell, B cell, and NK cell compartments. Clinical efficacy may reflect the sum of interactions among them, leading to control of potentially pathogenic effector cell types. Several immune measures were identified as possible biomarkers of lesion activity. Future studies are necessary to more precisely define regulatory and effector subsets and their contributions to clinical efficacy and risk for secondary autoimmunity in alemtuzumab-treated patients, and to reveal new insights into mechanisms of immunopathogenesis in MS. TRIAL REGISTRATION:Parent trials for this study are registered with ClinicalTrials.gov: CARE-MS II: NCT00548405, CARE-MS II extension: NCT00930553 and ISS: NCT01307332.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The lymphocyte-depleting antibody alemtuzumab is a highly effective treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS); however 50% of patients develop novel autoimmunity post-treatment. Most at risk are individuals who reconstitute their T-cell pool by proliferating residual cells, rather than producing new T-cells in the thymus; raising the possibility that autoimmunity might be prevented by increasing thymopoiesis. Keratinocyte growth factor (palifermin) promotes thymopoiesis in non-human primates. METHODS:Following a dose-tolerability sub-study, individuals with RRMS (duration ?10 years; expanded disability status scale ?5·0; with ?2 relapses in the previous 2 years) were randomised to placebo or 180mcg/kg/day palifermin, given for 3 days immediately prior to and after each cycle of alemtuzumab, with repeat doses at M1 and M3. The interim primary endpoint was naïve CD4+ T-cell count at M6. Exploratory endpoints included: number of recent thymic-emigrants (RTEs) and signal-joint T-cell receptor excision circles (sjTRECs)/mL of blood. The trial primary endpoint was incidence of autoimmunity at M30. FINDINGS:At M6, individuals receiving palifermin had fewer naïve CD4+T-cells (2.229x107/L vs. 7.733x107/L; p=0.007), RTEs (16% vs. 34%) and sjTRECs/mL (1100 vs. 3396), leading to protocol-defined termination of recruitment. No difference was observed in the rate of autoimmunity between the two groupsConclusion: In contrast to animal studies, palifermin reduced thymopoiesis in our patients. These results offer a note of caution to those using palifermin to promote thymopoiesis in other settings, particularly in the oncology/haematology setting where alemtuzumab is often used as part of the conditioning regime. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01712945Funding: MRC and Moulton Charitable Foundation.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>T-cell depleting strategies have become an integral part of immunosuppressive regimens in organ transplantation. Alemtuzumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody against CD52, a cell-surface antigen on several immune cells. It has been suggested that lymphocyte depletion increases the risk of serious infections. However, this has not been observed with short-term alemtuzumab treatment in an organ transplant setting. For induction therapy using alemtuzumab following liver transplantation, we found that T- and B-cell numbers declined rapidly after alemtuzumab therapy; however, the natural killer (NK) cell number was sustained. NK cells are important effectors of innate immunity. Since the effects of alemtuzumab on NK cell functions, especially those of liver NK cells, are unknown, this study aimed to investigate this in detail.<h4>Methods</h4>To assess the effect of alemtuzumab on NK cells, samples were obtained from 7 organ donors and examined by flow cytometry using Annexin V and propidium iodide. Phenotypical and functional differences within subsets of NK cells with different levels of CD52 expression were determined by flow cytometry and in vitro cytotoxicity assays.<h4>Results</h4>CD52 expression on NK cells was lower than that on other lymphocyte subsets. The liver contained a large number of CD52- NK cells compared with the peripheral blood. In vitro treatment of liver-derived NK cells with alemtuzumab did not result in cell death. In contrast, co-incubation with alemtuzumab induced cell death in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and non-NK cells in the liver. Furthermore, CD52- liver NK cells were more cytotoxic and produced more IFN-? than CD52+ NK cells after cytokine activation.<h4>Conclusion</h4>The liver contains a large number of CD52- NK cells. These cells are refractory to alemtuzumab and have robust activity. These findings indicate that CD52- NK cells persist and could protect against infection after alemtuzumab-based lymphocyte depletion.
Project description:Alemtuzumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody that is administered daily for 5 days, and then no further therapy is required for 12 months. It causes rapid and prolonged lymphocyte depletion; the consequent homeostatic reconstitution leads to a radically reformed lymphocyte pool with a relative increase in regulatory T cells and expansion of autoreactive T cells. Although previously licensed for the treatment of B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia, it is now been considered for licensing in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). From a disappointing experience with alemtuzumab in progressive MS, Alastair Compston and I argued that immunotherapies should be given early in the course of the disease. In a unique program of drug development in MS, alemtuzumab has been compared in 1 phase 2 trial and 2 phase 3 trials with the active comparator interferon beta-1a. In all trials, alemtuzumab was more effective in suppressing relapses than interferon beta-1a. In one phase 2 and one phase 3 trial, alemtuzumab also reduced the risk of accumulating disability compared with interferon beta-1a. Indeed, alemtuzumab treatment led to an improvement in disability and a reduction in cerebral atrophy. The safety issues are infusion-associated reactions largely controlled by methylprednisolone, antihistamines, and antipyretics; mild-to-moderate infections (with 3 opportunistic infections from the open-label experience: 1 case each of spirochaetal gingivitis, pyogenic granuloma, and Listeria meningitis); and autoimmunity. Usually autoimmunity is directed against the thyroid gland, but causes (1 %) immune thrombocytopenia, and in a few cases antiglomerular basement membrane syndrome. Alemtuzumab is an effective therapy for early relapsing-remitting MS, offering disability improvement at least to 5 years after treatment. Its use requires careful monitoring so that potentially serious side effects can be treated early and effectively.
Project description:Alemtuzumab (Lemtrada®) is a newly approved therapeutic agent for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). In previous phase II and III clinical trials, alemtuzumab has proven superior efficacy to subcutaneous interferon beta-1a concerning relapse rate and disability progression with unprecedented durability and long-lasting freedom of disease activity. The humanized monoclonal antibody targets CD52, leading to a rapid and long-lasting depletion, especially of B and T cells. Arising from hematopoietic precursor cells a fundamental reprogramming of the immune system restores tolerogenic networks effectively suppressing autoimmune inflammatory responses in the central nervous system (CNS). Despite its favourable effects alemtuzumab holds a severe risk of side effects with secondary autoimmunity being the most considerable. Markers for risk stratification and treatment response improving patient selection and therapy guidance are a big unmet need for MS patients and health care providers.This is a mono center, single arm, explorative phase IV study including 15 patients with highly active RRMS designed for 3 years. Patients will be studied by a high-resolution analysis comprising a repertoire of various immunological assays for the detection of immune cells and their function in peripheral blood as well as the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). These assays encompass a number of experiments investigating immune cell subset composition, activation status, cytokine secretion, migratory capacity, potential neuroprotective properties and cytolytic activity complemented by instrument-based diagnostics like MRI scans, evoked potentials and optical coherence tomography (OCT).Our study represents the first in-depth and longitudinal functional analysis of key immunological parameters in the periphery and the CNS compartment underlying the fundamental effects of alemtuzumab in MS patients. By combining clinical, experimental and MRI data our study will provide a deeper understanding of alemtuzumab's mechanisms of action (MOA) potentially identifying immune signatures associated with treatment response or the development of secondary autoimmunity. After validation in larger cohorts this might help to improve efficacy and safety of alemtuzumab therapy in RRMS patients.NCT02419378 (clinicaltrials.gov), registered 31 March 2015.
Project description:Multiple sclerosis (MS) is among the most common chronic inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system. Although not curable, the constantly increasing armamentarium of disease-modifying drugs now allows control of disease activity in many patients. The humanized monoclonal antibody alemtuzumab is a powerful drug licensed for the treatment of MS. Upon binding to the CD52 surface protein on CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, B cells, and monocytes, circulating CD52+ cells are eliminated via antibody- and complement-mediated lysis, and a less autoreactive adaptive immune system is reconstituted. The efficacy of alemtuzumab in terms of both clinical and magnetic resonance imaging outcomes has been demonstrated in several phase II/III trials including long-term extensions and follow-up studies. Treatment response to alemtuzumab is strongest as long as active inflammation is the predominant pathophysiological feature, and it is becoming less efficacious in neurodegeneration-dominated later stages of the disease. Thus, the optimal placement of alemtuzumab within treatment algorithms of MS is crucial. The impressive efficacy of alemtuzumab is counteracted by a less favorable safety profile. Besides usually manageable infusion-associated side effects, development of secondary autoimmunity in almost half of treated patients is the most disconcerting risk of alemtuzumab. The high frequency, the delayed occurrence, and the potentially severe course of secondary autoimmune diseases require awareness and a close long-term monitoring of patients treated with alemtuzumab. Biomarkers that would allow prediction of treatment response to alemtuzumab on the one hand and identification of patients at risk for the development of secondary autoimmune diseases on the other are not yet available. Thus, the overall success of alemtuzumab treatment critically depends on the patient selection. The aim of this article is therefore, to characterize the significance of alemtuzumab in the treatment of MS with a focus on the selection of the optimal patient.