Immunomodulatory effects of H.P. Acthar Gel on B cell development in the NZB/W F1 mouse model of systemic lupus erythematosus

Lupus. 2014 Jul;23(8):802-12. doi: 10.1177/0961203314531840. Epub 2014 Apr 23.


H.P. Acthar Gel® (Acthar) is a highly purified repository gel preparation of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH1-39), a melanocortin peptide that can bind and activate specific receptors expressed on a range of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)-relevant target cells and tissues. This study was performed to evaluate the effects of Acthar in a mouse model of SLE, using an F1 hybrid of the New Zealand Black and New Zealand White strains (NZB/W F1). Twenty-eight week old NZB/W F1 mice with established autoimmune disease were treated with Acthar, Placebo Gel (Placebo), or prednisolone and monitored for 19 weeks. Outcomes assessed included disease severity (severe proteinuria, ≥ 20% body weight loss, or prostration), measurement of serial serum autoantibody titers, terminal spleen immunophenotyping, and evaluation of renal histopathology. Acthar treatment was linked with evidence of altered B cell differentiation and development, manifested by a significant reduction in splenic B cell follicular and germinal center cells, and decreased levels of circulating total and anti-double-stranded DNA (IgM, IgG, and IgG2a) autoantibodies as compared with Placebo. Additionally, Acthar treatment resulted in a significant decrease of proteinuria, reduced renal lymphocyte infiltration, and attenuation of glomerular immune complex deposition. These data suggest that Acthar diminished pathogenic autoimmune responses in the spleen, peripheral blood, and kidney of NZB/W F1 mice. This is the first preclinical evidence demonstrating Acthar's potential immunomodulatory activity and efficacy in a murine model of systemic lupus erythematosus.

Keywords: ACTH; Acthar Gel; B cells; NZB/W F1; Systemic lupus erythematosus; melanocortin peptides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • B-Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Female
  • Gels
  • Hormones / pharmacology*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NZB / immunology*


  • Gels
  • Hormones
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone