AS2553627, a novel JAK inhibitor, prevents chronic rejection in rat cardiac allografts

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Janus family kinases (JAKs) are essential molecules for cytokine responses and attractive targets for the treatment of transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases. Several JAK inhibitors have shown demonstrable effects on acute rejection in experimental cardiac transplant models. However, little is known about the potential benefits of JAK inhibitors on chronic rejection outcomes such as vasculopathy and fibrosis. Here, we examined the pharmacological profile of a novel JAK inhibitor, AS2553627, and explored its therapeutic potential in chronic rejection as well as acute rejection in a rat cardiac transplant model. AS2553627 potently inhibited JAK kinases but showed no inhibition of other kinases, including TCR-associated molecules. The compound also suppressed proliferation of IL-2 stimulated human and rat T cells. In a rat cardiac transplant model, oral administration of AS2553627 alone or co-administration with a sub-therapeutic dose of tacrolimus effectively prolonged cardiac allograft survival, suggesting the efficacy in treating acute rejection. To evaluate the effect on chronic rejection, recipient rats were administered a therapeutic dose of tacrolimus for 90 days. In combination with tacrolimus, AS2553627 significantly reduced cardiac allograft vasculopathy and fibrosis that tacrolimus alone did not inhibit. AS2553627 at the effective dose in rat transplantation models did not significantly reduce reticulocyte counts in peripheral whole blood after in vivo erythropoietin administration, indicating a low risk for anemia. These results suggest that AS2553627 may be a therapeutic candidate for the prevention of not only acute but also chronic rejection in cardiac transplantation.

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