Mechanism of baricitinib supports artificial intelligence-predicted testing in COVID-19 patients.
ABSTRACT: Baricitinib is an oral Janus kinase (JAK)1/JAK2 inhibitor approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) that was independently predicted, using artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, to be useful for COVID-19 infection via proposed anti-cytokine effects and as an inhibitor of host cell viral propagation. We evaluated the in vitro pharmacology of baricitinib across relevant leukocyte subpopulations coupled to its in vivo pharmacokinetics and showed it inhibited signaling of cytokines implicated in COVID-19 infection. We validated the AI-predicted biochemical inhibitory effects of baricitinib on human numb-associated kinase (hNAK) members measuring nanomolar affinities for AAK1, BIKE, and GAK. Inhibition of NAKs led to reduced viral infectivity with baricitinib using human primary liver spheroids. These effects occurred at exposure levels seen clinically. In a case series of patients with bilateral COVID-19 pneumonia, baricitinib treatment was associated with clinical and radiologic recovery, a rapid decline in SARS-CoV-2 viral load, inflammatory markers, and IL-6 levels. Collectively, these data support further evaluation of the anti-cytokine and anti-viral activity of baricitinib and support its assessment in randomized trials in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Project description:Effective therapeutics aimed at mitigating COVID-19 symptoms are urgently needed. SARS-CoV-2 induced hypercytokinemia and systemic inflammation are associated with disease severity. Baricitinib, a clinically approved JAK1/2 inhibitor with potent anti-inflammatory properties is currently being investigated in COVID-19 human clinical trials. Recent reports suggest that baricitinib may also have antiviral activity in limiting viral endocytosis. Here, we investigated the immunologic and virologic efficacy of baricitinib in a rhesus macaque model of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Viral shedding measured from nasal and throat swabs, bronchoalveolar lavages and tissues was not reduced with baricitinib. Type I IFN antiviral responses and SARS-CoV-2 specific T cell responses remained similar between the two groups. Importantly, however, animals treated with baricitinib showed reduced immune activation, decreased infiltration of neutrophils into the lung, reduced NETosis activity, and more limited lung pathology. Moreover, baricitinib treated animals had a rapid and remarkably potent suppression of alveolar macrophage derived production of cytokines and chemokines responsible for inflammation and neutrophil recruitment. These data support a beneficial role for, and elucidate the immunological mechanisms underlying, the use of baricitinib as a frontline treatment for severe inflammation induced by SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Project description:In December 2019, a novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) suddenly broke out in China and rapidly spread all over the world. Recently, a cell surface protein, known as angiotensin-converting enzyme II (ACE2), has been identified to be involved in receptor-mediated endocytosis for SARS-CoV-2 entry to the cells. Many studies have reported the clinical characteristics of COVID-19: sudden deterioration of disease around 1-2 weeks after onset; much lower level of lymphocytes, especially natural killer (NK) cells in peripheral blood; extremely high pro-inflammatory cytokines and C reactive protein (CRP). About 15.7% of patients develop severe pneumonia, and cytokine storm is an important factor leading to rapid disease progression. Currently, there are no specific drugs for COVID-19 and the cytokine storm it causes. Baricitinib intracellularly inhibits the proinflammatory signal of several cytokines by suppressing Janus kinase (JAK) JAK1/JAK2. It has been demonstrated clinical benefits for the patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), active systemic lupus erythematosus and atopic dermatitis with good efficacy and safety records. Baricitinib is expected to interrupt the passage and intracellular assembly of SARS-CoV-2 into the target cells mediated by ACE2 receptor, and treat cytokine storm caused by COVID-19. Several clinical trials are currently investigating the drug, and one of which has been completed with encouraging results. In this paper, we will elaborate the role of cytokine storm mediated by JAK-STAT pathway in severe COVID-19, the possible mechanisms of baricitinib on reducing the viral entry into the target cells and cytokine storm, the key points of pharmaceutical care based on the latest research reports, clinical trials progress and drug instruction from the US FDA, so as to provide reference for the treatment of severe COVID-19.
Project description:Global health is threatened by emerging viral infections, which largely lack effective vaccines or therapies. Targeting host pathways that are exploited by multiple viruses could offer broad-spectrum solutions. We previously reported that AAK1 and GAK, kinase regulators of the host adaptor proteins AP1 and AP2, are essential for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, but the underlying mechanism and relevance to other viruses or in vivo infections remained unknown. Here, we have discovered that AP1 and AP2 cotraffic with HCV particles in live cells. Moreover, we found that multiple viruses, including dengue and Ebola, exploit AAK1 and GAK during entry and infectious virus production. In cultured cells, treatment with sunitinib and erlotinib, approved anticancer drugs that inhibit AAK1 or GAK activity, or with more selective compounds inhibited intracellular trafficking of HCV and multiple unrelated RNA viruses with a high barrier to resistance. In murine models of dengue and Ebola infection, sunitinib/erlotinib combination protected against morbidity and mortality. We validated sunitinib- and erlotinib-mediated inhibition of AAK1 and GAK activity as an important mechanism of antiviral action. Additionally, we revealed potential roles for additional kinase targets. These findings advance our understanding of virus-host interactions and establish a proof of principle for a repurposed, host-targeted approach to combat emerging viruses.
Project description:A patient with COVID-19-related severe respiratory failure, with insufficient response to an antiretroviral therapy, hydroxychloroquine and Interleukin-6 (IL-6) antagonist therapy, presented a prompt resolution of the respiratory function and improvement in the radiological picture after baricitinib at an oral dose of 4 mg per day for 2 weeks.
Project description:Novel therapies are urgently needed against hepatitis C virus infection (HCV), a major global health problem. The current model of infectious virus production suggests that HCV virions are assembled on or near the surface of lipid droplets, acquire their envelope at the ER, and egress through the secretory pathway. The mechanisms of HCV assembly and particularly the role of viral-host protein-protein interactions in mediating this process are, however, poorly understood. We identified a conserved heretofore unrecognized YXX? motif (? is a bulky hydrophobic residue) within the core protein. This motif is homologous to sorting signals within host cargo proteins known to mediate binding of AP2M1, the ? subunit of clathrin adaptor protein complex 2 (AP-2), and intracellular trafficking. Using microfluidics affinity analysis, protein-fragment complementation assays, and co-immunoprecipitations in infected cells, we show that this motif mediates core binding to AP2M1. YXX? mutations, silencing AP2M1 expression or overexpressing a dominant negative AP2M1 mutant had no effect on HCV RNA replication, however, they dramatically inhibited intra- and extracellular infectivity, consistent with a defect in viral assembly. Quantitative confocal immunofluorescence analysis revealed that core's YXX? motif mediates recruitment of AP2M1 to lipid droplets and that the observed defect in HCV assembly following disruption of core-AP2M1 binding correlates with accumulation of core on lipid droplets, reduced core colocalization with E2 and reduced core localization to trans-Golgi network (TGN), the presumed site of viral particles maturation. Furthermore, AAK1 and GAK, serine/threonine kinases known to stimulate binding of AP2M1 to host cargo proteins, regulate core-AP2M1 binding and are essential for HCV assembly. Last, approved anti-cancer drugs that inhibit AAK1 or GAK not only disrupt core-AP2M1 binding, but also significantly inhibit HCV assembly and infectious virus production. These results validate viral-host interactions essential for HCV assembly and yield compounds for pharmaceutical development.
Project description:The need for proven disease-specific treatments for the novel pandemic coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 necessitates a worldwide search for therapeutic options. Since the SARS-CoV-2 virus shares extensive homology with SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, effective therapies for SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV may also have therapeutic potential for the current COVID-19 outbreak. To identify therapeutics that might be repositioned for treatment of the SARS-CoV-2 disease COVID-19, we strategically reviewed the literature to identify existing therapeutics with evidence of efficacy for the treatment of the three coronaviruses that cause severe respiratory illness (SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2). Mechanistic and in vitro analyses suggest multiple promising therapeutic options with potential for repurposing to treat patients with COVID-19. Therapeutics with particularly high potential efficacy for repurposing include camostat mesylate, remdesivir, favipiravir, tocilizumab, baricitinib, convalescent plasma, and humanized monoclonal antibodies. Camostat mesylate has shown therapeutic potential, likely by preventing viral entry into epithelial cells. In early research, the targeted antivirals remdesivir and favipiravir appear to benefit patients by decreasing viral replication; clinical trials suggest that remdesivir speeds recovery from COVID-19. Tocilizumab and baricitinib appear to improve mortality by preventing a severe cytokine storm. Convalescent plasma and humanized monoclonal antibodies offer passive immunity and decreased recovery time. This review highlights potential therapeutic options that may be repurposed to treat COVID-19 and suggests opportunities for further research.
Project description:There is an urgent need for strategies to combat dengue virus (DENV) infection; a major global threat. We reported that the cellular kinases AAK1 and GAK regulate intracellular trafficking of multiple viruses and that sunitinib and erlotinib, approved anticancer drugs with potent activity against these kinases, protect DENV-infected mice from mortality. Nevertheless, further characterization of the therapeutic potential and underlying mechanism of this approach is required prior to clinical evaluation. Here, we demonstrate that sunitinib/erlotinib combination achieves sustained suppression of systemic infection at approved dose in DENV-infected IFN-?/? and IFN-? receptor-deficient mice. Nevertheless, treatment with these blood-brain barrier impermeable drugs delays, yet does not prevent, late-onset paralysis; a common manifestation in this immunodeficient mouse model but not in humans. Sunitinib and erlotinib treatment also demonstrates efficacy in human primary monocyte-derived dendritic cells. Additionally, DENV infection induces expression of AAK1 transcripts, but not GAK, via single-cell transcriptomics, and these kinases are important molecular targets underlying the anti-DENV effect of sunitinib and erlotinib. Lastly, sunitinib/erlotinib combination alters inflammatory cytokine responses in DENV-infected mice. These findings support feasibility of repurposing sunitinib/erlotinib combination as a host-targeted antiviral approach and contribute to understanding its mechanism of antiviral action.
Project description:The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 associated coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) illness is a syndrome of viral replication in concert with a host inflammatory response. The cytokine storm and viral evasion of cellular immune responses may play an equally important role in the pathogenesis, clinical manifestation, and outcomes of COVID-19. Systemic proinflammatory cytokines and biomarkers are elevated as the disease progresses towards its advanced stages, and correlate with worse chances of survival. Immune modulators have the potential to inhibit cytokines and treat the cytokine storm. A literature search using PubMed, Google Scholar, and ClinicalTrials.gov was conducted through 8 July 2020 using the search terms 'coronavirus', 'immunology', 'cytokine storm', 'immunomodulators', 'pharmacology', 'severe acute respiratory syndrome 2', 'SARS-CoV-2', and 'COVID-19'. Specific immune modulators include anti-cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-1 and IL-6 receptor antagonists (e.g. anakinra, tocilizumab, sarilumab, siltuximab), Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors (e.g. baricitinib, ruxolitinib), anti-tumor necrosis factor-? (e.g. adalimumab, infliximab), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factors (e.g. gimsilumab, lenzilumab, namilumab), and convalescent plasma, with promising to negative trials and other data. Non-specific immune modulators include human immunoglobulin, corticosteroids such as dexamethasone, interferons, statins, angiotensin pathway modulators, macrolides (e.g. azithromycin, clarithromycin), hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, colchicine, and prostaglandin D2 modulators such as ramatroban. Dexamethasone 6 mg once daily (either by mouth or by intravenous injection) for 10 days may result in a reduction in mortality in COVID-19 patients by one-third for patients on ventilators, and by one-fifth for those receiving oxygen. Research efforts should focus not only on the most relevant immunomodulatory strategies but also on the optimal timing of such interventions to maximize therapeutic outcomes. In this review, we discuss the potential role and safety of these agents in the management of severe COVID-19, and their impact on survival and clinical symptoms.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:To assess the frequency of cardiovascular and venous thromboembolic events in clinical studies of baricitinib, an oral, selective JAK1 and JAK2 inhibitor approved in more than 50 countries for the treatment of moderately-to-severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA). METHODS:Data were pooled from 9 RA studies. Placebo comparison up to 24 weeks included data from 6 studies. Randomized dose comparison between baricitinib doses of 2 mg and 4 mg used data from 4 studies and from the associated long-term extension study. The data analysis set designated "All-bari-RA" included all baricitinib exposures at any dose. RESULTS:Overall, 3,492 RA patients received baricitinib (7,860 patient-years of exposure). No imbalance compared to the placebo group was seen in the incidence of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) (incidence rates [IRs] of 0.5 per 100 patient-years for placebo and 0.8 per 100 patient-years for 4 mg baricitinib), arterial thrombotic events (ATE) (IRs of 0.5 per 100 patient-years for placebo and 0.5 per 100 patient-years for 4 mg baricitinib), or congestive heart failure (CHF) broad term (IRs of 4.3 per 100 patient-years for placebo and 2.4 per 100 patient-years for 4 mg baricitinib). Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)/pulmonary embolism (PE) were reported in 0 of 1,070 patients treated with placebo and 6 of 997 patients treated with 4 mg baricitinib during the placebo-controlled period; these events were serious in 2 of 6 patients, while all 6 had risk factors and 1 patient developed DVT/PE after discontinuation of the study drug. In the 2 mg-4 mg-extended data analysis set, IRs of DVT/PE were comparable between the doses across event types (IRs of 0.5 per 100 patient-years in those receiving 2 mg baricitinib and 0.6 per 100 patient-years in those receiving 4 mg baricitinib). In the All-bari-RA data analysis set, the rates were stable over time, with an IR of DVT/PE of 0.5 per 100 patient-years. CONCLUSION:In RA clinical trials, no association was found between baricitinib treatment and the incidence of MACE, ATE, or CHF. With regard to incidence of DVT/PE, 6 events occurred in patients treated with 4 mg baricitinib, but no cases of DVT/PE were reported in the placebo group. During longer-term evaluation, the incidence of DVT/PE was similar between the baricitinib dose groups, with consistent IR values over time, and this was similar to the rates previously reported in patients with RA.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Since HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HANDs) occur in up to half of HIV-positive individuals, even with combined antiretroviral therapy (cART), adjunctive therapies are needed. Chronic CNS inflammation contributes to HAND and HIV encephalitis (HIVE). Baricitinib is a JAK 1/2 inhibitor approved in the USA, EU, and Japan for rheumatoid arthritis, demonstrating potent inhibition of IL-6, D-dimer, CRP, TNF-α, IFN-α/β, and other pro-inflammatory cytokines. METHODS:Our modified murine HAND model was used to evaluate the ability of baricitinib to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and modulate monocyte/macrophage-driven HAND. Severity of HAND was measured by assessing cognitive performance of low- and high-dose baricitinib treated versus untreated HAND mice. The severity of brain neuroinflammation was evaluated in these mouse groups after flow cytometric analyses. We also assessed the ability of baricitinib to block events in myeloid and lymphoid cells in vitro that may undergird the persistence of HIV in the central nervous system (CNS) in primary human macrophages (Mϕ) and lymphocytes including HIV replication, HIV-induced activation, reservoir expansion, and reservoir maintenance. RESULTS:In vivo, both doses of 10 and 50 mg/kg qd baricitinib crossed the BBB and reversed behavioral abnormalities conferred by HIV infection. Moreover, baricitinib significantly reduced HIV-induced neuroinflammation marked by glial activation: activated microglia (MHCII+/CD45+) and astrogliosis (GFAP). Baricitinib also significantly reduced the percentage of p24+ human macrophages in mouse brains (p < 0.05 versus HAND mice; t test). In vitro, baricitinib significantly reduced markers of persistence, reservoir size, and reseeding in Mϕ. CONCLUSION:These results show that blocking the JAK/STAT pathway reverses cognitive deficits and curtails inflammatory markers in HAND in mice. Our group recently reported safety and tolerability of ruxolitinib in HIV-infected individuals (Marconi et al., Safety, tolerability and immunologic activity of ruxolitinib added to suppressive ART, 2019), underscoring potential safety and utility of JAK inhibitors for additional human trials. The data reported herein coupled with our recent human trial with JAK inhibitors provide compelling preclinical data and impetus for considering a trial of baricitinib in HAND individuals treated with cART to reverse cognitive deficits and key events driving viral persistence.