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Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease characterized by the dysregulation of various cell types and immunological pathways. Autoantibodies play an important role in its pathogenesis. The presence of autoantibodies suggests that self-antigen presentation through major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II on antigen presenting cells is involved in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases, including SLE. Cathepsin S (CatS) is a key protease for antigen peptide loading onto lysosomal/endosomal MHC class II molecules through invariant chain degradation to promote antigen presentation. Inhibition of CatS is therefore expected to suppress antigen presentation via MHC class II, T and B cell activation, and antibody production from B cells. Here, we report the pharmacological profile of ASP1617, a novel CatS inhibitor. ASP1617 induced invariant chain accumulation and decreased the expression level of MHC class ΙΙ on the cell surface in both mouse and human B cells. Further, ASP1617 prevented DO11.10 mice T cell proliferation to ovalbumin antigen. We investigated the effects of ASP1617 and mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) on the development of lupus-like nephritis in NZB/W F1 mice, a widely used SLE mouse model. Oral administration of ASP1617 suppressed anti-dsDNA IgG, prevented progression of lupus-like glomerulonephritis, and significantly prevented proteinuria excretion. In contrast, MMF did not suppress anti-dsDNA IgG. Further, we found that plasma and/or urine CatS levels were increased in specimens from NZB/W F1 mice and several SLE patients. These results indicate that CatS may be an attractive therapeutic target for the treatment of SLE. Copyright © 2022 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Yuka Kawato, Hidehiko Fukahori, Koji Nakamura, Atsuo Kanno, Kaori Kubo, Masaki Hiramitsu, Toshihiro Matsuda, Yuichi Hanada, Takako Furukawa, Yutaka Nakajima, Fumitaka Kinugasa, Tatsuaki Morokata. Potential benefit of the cathepsin S inhibitor, ASP1617, as a treatment for systemic lupus erythematosus. European journal of pharmacology. 2022 Mar 15;919:174826

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PMID: 35157914

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