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Association Between Response to Etrolizumab and Expression of Integrin α E and Granzyme A in Colon Biopsies of Patients With Ulcerative Colitis

Gaik W. Tew, Jason A. Hackney, Deena Gibbons, Christopher A. Lamb, Diana Luca, Jackson G. Egen, Lauri Diehl, Jeff Eastham Anderson, Severine Vermeire, John C. Mansfield, Brian G. Feagan, Julian Panes, Daniel C. Baumgart, Stefan Schreiber, Iris Dotan

Gastroenterology, February 2016Volume 150, Issue 2, Pages 477–487.e9

ABSTRACT
 

BACKGROUND & AIMS

Etrolizumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody against the β7 integrin subunit that has shown efficacy vs placebo in patients with moderate to severely active ulcerative colitis (UC). Patients with colon tissues that expressed high levels of the integrin αE gene (ITGAE) appeared to have the best response. We compared differences in colonic expression of ITGAE and other genes between patients who achieved clinical remission with etrolizumab vs those who did.

METHODS

We performed a retrospective analysis of data collected from 110 patients with UC who participated in a phase 2 placebo-controlled trial of etrolizumab, as well as from 21 patients with UC or without inflammatory bowel disease (controls) enrolled in an observational study at a separate site. Colon biopsies were collected from patients in both studies and analyzed by immunohistochemistry and gene expression profiling. Mononuclear cells were isolated and analyzed by flow cytometry. We identified biomarkers associated with response to etrolizumab. In the placebo-controlled trial, clinical remission was defined as total Mayo Clinic Score ≤2, with no individual subscore >1, and mucosal healing was defined as endoscopic score ≤1.

RESULTS

Colon tissues collected at baseline from patients who had a clinical response to etrolizumab expressed higher levels of T-cell−associated genes than patients who did not respond (P < .05). Colonic CD4+ integrin αE+ cells from patients with UC expressed higher levels of granzyme A messenger RNA (GZMA mRNA) than CD4+ αE− cells (P < .0001); granzyme A and integrin αE protein were detected in the same cells. Of patients receiving 100 mg etrolizumab, a higher proportion of those with high levels of GZMA mRNA (41%) or ITGAE mRNA (38%) than those with low levels of GZMA (6%) or ITGAE mRNA (13%) achieved clinical remission (P < .05) and mucosal healing (41% GZMAhigh vs 19% GZMAlow and 44% ITGAEhigh vs 19% ITGAElow). Compared with ITGAElow and GZMAlow patients, patients with ITGAEhigh and GZMAhigh had higher baseline numbers of epithelial crypt-associated integrin αE+ cells (P < .01 for both), but a smaller number of crypt-associated integrin αE+ cells after etrolizumab treatment (P < .05 for both). After 10 weeks of etrolizumab treatment, expression of genes associated with T-cell activation and genes encoding inflammatory cytokines decreased by 40%−80% from baseline (P < .05) in patients with colon tissues expressing high levels of GZMA at baseline.

CONCLUSIONS

Levels of GZMA and ITGAE mRNAs in colon tissues can identify patients with UC who are most likely to benefit from etrolizumab; expression levels decrease with etrolizumab administration in biomarkerhigh patients. Larger, prospective studies of markers are needed to assess their clinical value.

© 2016 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. 

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IBD 13.03.2015

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