Past, Present and Future of Therapeutic Interventions Targeting Leukocyte Trafficking in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Panés J1,2, Salas A2. J Crohns Colitis. 2018 Aug 22;12(suppl_2):S633-S640. doi: 10.1093/ecco-jcc/jjy011.

Author information

1 Department of Gastroenterology, Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

2 Institut d'investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer, CIBERehd, Barcelona, Spain.


Studies in the 1990s using animal models of intestinal inflammation delineated the crucial molecules involved in leukocyte attraction and retention to the inflamed gut and associated lymphoid tissues. The first drug targeting leukocyte trafficking tested in inflammatory bowel diseases was the anti-ICAM-1 antisense oligonucleotide alicaforsen, showing only modest efficacy. Subsequently, the anti-α4 monoclonal antibody natalizumab proved efficacious for induction and maintenance of remission in Crohn's disease, but was associated with progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy due to its ability to interfere with both α4β1 and α4β7 function. Later developments in this area took advantage of the fairly selective expression of MAdCAM-1 in the digestive organs, showing that vedolizumab, a more specific monoclonal antibody selectively blocking MAdCAM-1 binding to integrin α4β7, was efficacious for induction and maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, and it was not associated with neurological complications. Currently, other drugs targeting the β7 subunit, immunoglobulin superfamily molecules expressed on the endothelium, as well as blockade of lymphocyte recirculation in lymph nodes through modulation of sphingosine 1-phosphate receptors are under development. The potential use and risks of combined anti-trafficking therapy will be examined in this review.

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