Safety and Immunological Evaluation of Interleukin-21 Plus Anti-α4β7 mAb Combination Therapy in Rhesus Macaques

Maria Pino, Srijayaprakash Babu Uppada, Kabita Pandey, Colin King, Kevin Nguyen, Inbo Shim, Kenneth Rogers, Francois Villinger, Mirko Paiardini, Siddappa N. Byrareddy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infections compromise gut immunological barriers, inducing high levels of inflammation and a severe depletion of intestinal CD4+ T cells. Expression of α4β7 integrin promotes homing of activated T cells to intestinal sites where they become preferentially infected; blockade of α4β7 with an anti-α4β7 monoclonal antibody (mAb) prior to infection has been reported to reduce gut SIV viremia in rhesus macaques (RMs). Interleukin-21 (IL-21) administration in antiretroviral therapy-treated, SIV-infected RMs reduces gut inflammation and improves gut integrity. We therefore hypothesized that the combination of IL-21 and anti-α4β7 mAb therapies could synergize to reduce inflammation and HIV persistence. We co-administered two intravenous doses of rhesus anti-α4β7 mAb (50 mg/kg) combined with seven weekly subcutaneous infusions of IL-21–IgFc (100 μg/kg) in four healthy, SIV-uninfected RMs to evaluate the safety and immunological profiles of this intervention in blood and gut. Co-administration of IL-21 and anti-α4β7 mAb showed no toxicity at the given dosages as assessed by multiple hematological and chemical parameters and did not alter the bioavailability of the therapeutics or result in the generation of antibodies against the anti-α4β7 mAb or IL-21–IgFc. Upon treatment, the frequency of CD4 memory T cells expressing β7 increased in blood and decreased in gut, consistent with an inhibition of activated CD4 T-cell homing to the gut. Furthermore, the frequency of T cells expressing proliferation and immune activation markers decreased in blood and, more profoundly, in gut. The combined IL-21 plus anti-α4β7 mAb therapy is well-tolerated in SIV-uninfected RMs and reduces the gut homing of α4β7+ CD4 T cells as well as the levels of gut immune activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1275
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - Jul 17 2020


  • IL-21
  • T- cell homing
  • anti-α4β7
  • combined immune intervention
  • immune activation
  • macaques
  • rhesus macaques

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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