Efficacy of IL-13 Neutralization in a Sheep Model of Experimental Asthma

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IL-13 contributes to airway hyperresponsiveness, mucus secretion, inflammation, and fibrosis, suggesting that it plays a central role in asthma pathogenesis. Neutralization of IL-13 with sIL-13Rα2-Fc (sIL-13R) reduces allergen-induced airway responses in rodent models of respiratory disease, but its efficacy in a large animal model has not been previously reported. In this study, we determined whether two different strategies for IL-13 neutralization modified experimental asthma in sheep. Sheep with natural airway hypersensitivity to Ascaris suum antigen were treated intravenously either with sIL-13R, a strong antagonist of sheep IL-13 bioactivity in vitro, or with IMA-638 (IgG1, κ), a humanized antibody to human IL-13. Higher doses of IMA-638 were used because, although it is a potent antagonist of human IL-13, this antibody has 20 to 30 times lower binding and neutralization activity against sheep IL-13. Control animals received human IgG of irrelevant specificity. Sheep were treated 24 h before inhalation challenge with nebulized A. suum. The effects on antigen-induced early and late bronchial responses, and antigen-induced hyperresponsiveness, were assessed. Both sIL-13R and IMA-638 provided dose-dependent inhibition of the antigen-induced late responses and airway hyperresponsiveness. The highest dose of IMA-638 also reduced the early phase response. These findings suggest that IL-13 contributes to allergen-induced airway responses in this sheep model of asthma, and that neutralization of IL-13 is an effective strategy for blocking these A. suum-induced effects.

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