The Orai Ca2+ channel inhibitor CM4620 targets both parenchymal and immune cells to reduce inflammation in experimental acute pancreatitis

J Physiol. 2019 Jun;597(12):3085-3105. doi: 10.1113/JP277856. Epub 2019 May 22.


Key points: This work confirms previous reports that CM4620, a small molecule inhibitor of Ca2+ entry via store operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE) channels formed by stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1)/Orai complexes, attenuates acinar cell pathology and acute pancreatitis in mouse experimental models. Here we report that intravenous administration of CM4620 reduces the severity of acute pancreatitis in the rat, a hitherto untested species. Using CM4620, we probe further the mechanisms whereby SOCE via STIM1/Orai complexes contributes to the disease in pancreatic acinar cells, supporting a role for endoplasmic reticulum stress/cell death pathways in these cells. Using CM4620, we show that SOCE via STIM1/Orai complexes promotes neutrophil oxidative burst and inflammatory gene expression during acute pancreatitis, including in immune cells which may be either circulating or invading the pancreas. Using CM4620, we show that SOCE via STIM1/Orai complexes promotes activation and fibroinflammatory gene expression within pancreatic stellate cells.

Abstract: Key features of acute pancreatitis include excess cellular Ca2+ entry driven by Ca2+ depletion from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and subsequent activation of store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE) channels in the plasma membrane. In several cell types, including pancreatic acinar, stellate cells (PaSCs) and immune cells, SOCE is mediated via channels composed primarily of Orai1 and stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1). CM4620, a selective Orai1 inhibitor, prevents Ca2+ entry in acinar cells. This study investigates the effects of CM4620 in preventing or reducing acute pancreatitis features and severity. We tested the effects of CM4620 on SOCE, trypsinogen activation, acinar cell death, activation of NFAT and NF-κB, and inflammatory responses in ex vivo and in vivo rodent models of acute pancreatitis and human pancreatic acini. We also examined whether CM4620 inhibited cytokine release in immune cells, fibro-inflammatory responses in PaSCs, and oxidative burst in neutrophils, all cell types participating in pancreatitis. CM4620 administration to rats by i.v. infusion starting 30 min after induction of pancreatitis significantly diminished pancreatitis features including pancreatic oedema, acinar cell vacuolization, intrapancreatic trypsin activity, cell death signalling and acinar cell death. CM4620 also decreased myeloperoxidase activity and inflammatory cytokine expression in pancreas and lung tissues, fMLF peptide-induced oxidative burst in human neutrophils, and cytokine production in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and rodent PaSCs, indicating that Orai1/STIM1 channels participate in the inflammatory responses of these cell types during acute pancreatitis. These findings support pathological Ca2+ entry-mediated cell death and proinflammatory signalling as central mechanisms in acute pancreatitis pathobiology.

Keywords: Orai channels; SOCE; acinar cell; acute pancreatitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acinar Cells / metabolism
  • Amidines / pharmacology
  • Amidines / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / therapeutic use*
  • Ceruletide
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • ORAI1 Protein / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Pancreatic Stellate Cells / metabolism
  • Pancreatitis / chemically induced
  • Pancreatitis / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatitis / immunology
  • Pancreatitis / metabolism
  • Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Proline / analogs & derivatives*
  • Proline / pharmacology
  • Proline / therapeutic use
  • Rats
  • Superoxides / metabolism


  • Amidines
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • CM544
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Cytokines
  • ORAI1 Protein
  • Superoxides
  • Ceruletide
  • Proline
  • Peroxidase
  • Calcium