Extracellular nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (eNAMPT) is increased in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients, and its serum levels correlate with a worse prognosis. In the present manuscript, we show that eNAMPT serum levels are increased in IBD patients that fail to respond to anti-TNFα therapy (infliximab or adalimumab) and that its levels drop in patients that are responsive to these therapies, with values comparable with healthy subjects. Furthermore, eNAMPT administration in dinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (DNBS)-treated mice exacerbates the symptoms of colitis, suggesting a causative role of this protein in IBD. To determine the druggability of this cytokine, we developed a novel monoclonal antibody (C269) that neutralizes in vitro the cytokine-like action of eNAMPT and that reduces its serum levels in rodents. Of note, this newly generated antibody is able to significantly reduce acute and chronic colitis in both DNBS- and dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis. Importantly, C269 ameliorates the symptoms by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines. Specifically, in the lamina propria, a reduced number of inflammatory monocytes, neutrophils, Th1, and cytotoxic T lymphocytes are found upon C269 treatment. Our data demonstrate that eNAMPT participates in IBD and, more importantly, that eNAMPT-neutralizing antibodies are endowed with a therapeutic potential in IBD. KEY MESSAGES: What are the new findings? Higher serum eNAMPT levels in IBD patients might decrease response to anti-TNF therapy. The cytokine-like activity of eNAMPT may be neutralized with a monoclonal antibody. Neutralization of eNAMPT ameliorates acute and chronic experimental colitis. Neutralization of eNAMPT limits the expression of IBD inflammatory signature. Neutralization of eNAMPT impairs immune cell infiltration in lamina propria.
Keywords: Experimental colitis; Mucosal immunity; NAMPT; Neutralizing antibody.