Authors: Pouzol, Laetitia; Baumlin, Nadège; Sassi, Anna; Tunis, Mélanie; Marrie, Julia; Vezzali, Enrico; Farine, Hervé; Mentzel, Ulrich; Martinic, Marianne M.
Issue: FASEB J . 2021 Mar;35(3):e21431.
Current strategies for the treatment of demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) are based on anti-inflammatory or immunomodulatory drugs. Those drugs have the potential to reduce the frequency of new lesions but do not directly promote remyelination in the damaged central nervous system (CNS). Targeting CXCR7 (ACKR3) has been postulated as a potential therapeutic approach in demyelinating diseases, leading to both immunomodulation by reducing leukocyte infiltrates and promyelination by enhancing myelin repair. ACT-1004-1239 is a potent, selective, insurmountable, and orally available first-in-class CXCR7 receptor antagonist. The effect of ACT-1004-1239 was evaluated in the myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG)-induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) and the cuprizone-induced demyelination mouse models. In addition, ACT-1004-1239 was assessed in a rat oligodendrocyte precursor cell (OPC) differentiation assay in vitro. In the MOG-induced EAE model, ACT-1004-1239 treatment (10-100 mg/kg, twice daily, orally) showed a significant dose-dependent reduction in disease clinical scores, resulting in increased survival. At the highest dose tested (100 mg/kg, twice daily), ACT-1004-1239 delayed disease onset and significantly reduced immune cell infiltrates into the CNS and plasma neurofilament light chain concentration. Treatment with ACT-1004-1239 dose-dependently increased plasma CXCL12 concentration, which correlated with a reduction of the cumulative disease score. Furthermore, in the cuprizone model, ACT-1004-1239 treatment significantly increased the number of mature myelinating oligodendrocytes and enhanced myelination in vivo. In vitro, ACT-1004-1239 promoted the maturation of OPCs into myelinating oligodendrocytes. These results provide evidence that ACT-1004-1239 both reduces neuroinflammation and enhances myelin repair substantiating the rationale to explore its therapeutic potential in a clinical setting.