BACKGROUND: The common γ-chain (γc) cytokines signal through the Janus kinase (JAK)-signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) pathway and play pivotal roles in lymphocyte activation. We investigated the effect of immunosuppressive drugs targeting this pathway, the JAK inhibitor tofacitinib (CP-690,550) and the anti-interleukin (IL)-2R antibody basiliximab, as part of a phase 2 study. METHODS: After whole-blood activation with the γccytokines IL-2, IL-7, and IL-15, STAT5 phosphorylation was determined in T cells of de novo kidney transplantation patients treated with tofacitinib/basiliximab (n=5), calcineurin inhibitor (CNI) (cyclosporine A)/basiliximab (n=4) or CNI (tacrolimus)-based immunosuppression (n=6). The IC50 for phosphorylated STAT (P-STAT) 5 inhibition by tofacitinib was determined in cytokine-activated CD4+and CD8+T cells from healthy individuals (n=4). RESULTS: IC50 was 26, 72, and 37 ng/mL for IL-2, IL-7, and IL-15 activation, in CD4+T cells, respectively; and 35, 61, and 76 ng/mL for IL-2, IL-7, and IL-15 activation, in CD8+T cells, respectively. In kidney transplantation patients, 7 days after starting tofacitinib/basiliximab treatment, cytokine-induced P-STAT5 was inhibited in CD4+T cells (92% for IL-2 activation, 60% for IL-7, and 75% for IL-15), which persisted for the 2-month study period. In contrast, CNI/basiliximab treatment did not affect IL-7-activated or IL-15-activated P-STAT5; only IL-2-activated P-STAT5 was reduced by 77% on day 7 and recovered to pretreatment levels within 2 months. CD8+T cells showed a comparable profile to CD4+T cells. P-STAT5 was not inhibited in CNI-treated control patients. CONCLUSIONS: Tofacitinib therapy strongly inhibits γccytokine-induced JAK/STAT5 activation, whereas basiliximab suppresses IL-2-stimulated activation only. Pharmacodynamic monitoring offers a unique tool to evaluate the biologic effects of immunosuppressive drugs. Copyright

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Keywords Flow cytometry, Pharmacodynamic monitoring, STAT5, Tofacitinib
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Journal Transplantation
Vafadari, R, Quaedackers, M.E, Kho, M.M.L, Mol, W.M, Chan, G, Weimar, W, & Baan, C.C. (2012). Pharmacodynamic analysis of tofacitinib and basiliximab in kidney allograft recipients. Transplantation, 94(5), 465–472. doi:10.1097/TP.0b013e3182626b5a