Protective effect of a germline, IL-17-neutralizing antibody in murine models of autoimmune inflammatory disease.
Dallenbach K., Maurer P., Röhn T., Zabel F., Kopf M., Bachmann MF.
Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) inhibiting cytokines have recently emerged as new drug modalities for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases. Interleukin-17 (IL-17) is a T-cell-derived central mediator of autoimmunity. Immunization with Qβ-IL-17, a virus-like particle based vaccine, has been shown to produce autoantibodies in mice and was effective in ameliorating disease symptoms in animal models of autoimmunity. To characterize autoantibodies induced by vaccination at the molecular level, we generated mouse mAbs specific for IL-17 and compared them to germline Ig sequences. The variable regions of a selected hypermutated high-affinity anti-IL-17 antibody differed in only three amino acid residues compared to the likely germline progenitor. An antibody, which was backmutated to germline, maintained a surprisingly high affinity (0.5 nM). The ability of the parental hypermutated antibody and the derived germline antibody to block inflammation was subsequently tested in murine models of multiple sclerosis (experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis), arthritis (collagen-induced arthritis), and psoriasis (imiquimod-induced skin inflammation). Both antibodies were able to delay disease onset and significantly reduced disease severity. Thus, the mouse genome unexpectedly encodes for antibodies with the ability to functionally neutralize IL-17 in vivo.