Unit of Molecular Signal Transduction in Inflammation, VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research, Ghent, Belgium; Department of Biomedical Molecular Biology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. Electronic address: [Email]
BACKGROUND : The emergence of IL-33 as a key molecular player in the development and propagation of widespread inflammatory diseases, including asthma and atopic dermatitis, has established the need for effective IL-33-neutralizing biologics. OBJECTIVE : Here we describe the development and validation of a new antagonist of IL-33, termed IL-33trap, which combines the extracellular domains of the IL-33 receptor (ST2) and its coreceptor, IL-1 receptor accessory protein, into a single fusion protein. METHODS : We produced and purified recombinant IL-33trap from human cells and analyzed its IL-33-binding affinity and IL-33 antagonistic activity in cultured cells and mice. IL-33trap activity was also benchmarked with a recombinant soluble ST2 corresponding to the naturally occurring IL-33 decoy receptor. Finally, we studied the effect of IL-33trap in the Alternaria alternata mouse model of allergic airway inflammation. RESULTS : In vitro IL-33trap binds IL-33 and inhibits IL-33 activity to a much stronger degree than soluble ST2. Furthermore, IL-33trap inhibits eosinophil infiltration, splenomegaly, and production of signature cytokines in splenic lymphocytes and lung tissue on IL-33 injection. Finally, administration of IL-33trap at the time of allergen challenge inhibits inflammatory responses in a preclinical mouse model of acute allergic airway inflammation. CONCLUSIONS : IL-33trap is a novel IL-33 antagonist that outperforms the natural IL-33 decoy receptor and shows anti-inflammatory activities in a preclinical mouse model of acute allergic airway inflammation when administered at the time of allergen challenge.