Background and purpose: BAF312 is a next-generation sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) receptor modulator, selective for S1P(1) and S1P(5 ) receptors. S1P(1) receptors are essential for lymphocyte egress from lymph nodes and a drug target in immune-mediated diseases. Here, we have characterized the immunomodulatory potential of BAF312 and the S1P receptor-mediated effects on heart rate using preclinical and human data.
Experimental approach: BAF312 was tested in a rat experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model. Electrophysiological recordings of G-protein-coupled inwardly rectifying potassium (GIRK) channels were carried out in human atrial myocytes. A Phase I multiple-dose trial studied the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and safety of BAF312 in 48 healthy subjects.
Key results: BAF312 effectively suppressed EAE in rats by internalizing S1P(1) receptors, rendering them insensitive to the egress signal from lymph nodes. In healthy volunteers, BAF312 caused preferential decreases in CD4(+) T cells, T(naïve) , T(central memory) and B cells within 4-6 h. Cell counts returned to normal ranges within a week after stopping treatment, in line with the elimination half-life of BAF312. Despite sparing S1P(3) receptors (associated with bradycardia in mice), BAF312 induced rapid, transient (day 1 only) bradycardia in humans. BAF312-mediated activation of GIRK channels in human atrial myocytes can fully explain the bradycardia.
Conclusion and implications: This study illustrates species-specific differences in S1P receptor specificity for first-dose cardiac effects. Based on its profound but rapidly reversible inhibition of lymphocyte trafficking, BAF312 may have potential as a treatment for immune-mediated diseases.
© 2012 Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research. British Journal of Pharmacology © 2012 The British Pharmacological Society.