Macrophage accumulation in atherosclerosis is directly linked to the destabilization and rupture of plaque, causing acute atherothrombotic events. Circulating monocytes enter the plaque and differentiate into macrophages, where they are activated by CD4+ T lymphocytes through CD40–CD40 ligand signalling. Here, we report the development and multiparametric evaluation of a nanoimmunotherapy that moderates CD40–CD40 ligand signalling in monocytes and macrophages by blocking the interaction between CD40 and tumour necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6). We evaluated the biodistribution characteristics of the nanoimmunotherapy in apolipoprotein E-deficient (Apoe–/–) mice and in non-human primates by in vivo positron-emission tomography imaging. In Apoe–/– mice, a 1-week nanoimmunotherapy treatment regimen achieved significant anti-inflammatory effects, which was due to the impaired migration capacity of monocytes, as established by a transcriptome analysis. The rapid reduction of plaque inflammation by the TRAF6-targeted nanoimmunotherapy and its favourable toxicity profiles in both mice and non-human primates highlights the translational potential of this strategy for the treatment of atherosclerosis.
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The authors thank the Icahn School of Medicine and the following Mount Sinai’s core facilities: flow cytometry core, quantitative PCR core and TMII’s preclinical imaging core. This study was funded by National Institutes of Health grants R01 HL118440, R01 HL125703 and P01 HL131478 (all to W.J.M.M.), R01 EB009638 (to Z.A.F.) and R01 HL144072 (to W.J.M.M. and Z.A.F.), as well as by NWO grants ZonMW Veni 016156059 (to R.D.) and ZonMW Vidi 91713324 (to W.J.M.M.), and by the European Research Council (ERC Con to E.L.) and by the DFG (SFB 1123-A5 to E.L.).
There authors declare no competing interests.
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Supplementary figures, tables and video captions.
Supplementary Video 1
Three-dimensional MRI of a non-human primate.
Supplementary Video 2
Three-dimensional PET distribution of 89Zr-labelled TRAF6i–HDL at 60 minutes in a non-human primate.
Supplementary Video 3
In vitro transendothelial migration of monocytes pre-treated with TRAF6i–HD.
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Lameijer, M., Binderup, T., van Leent, M.M.T. et al. Efficacy and safety assessment of a TRAF6-targeted nanoimmunotherapy in atherosclerotic mice and non-human primates. Nat Biomed Eng 2, 279–292 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41551-018-0221-2
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