The monocyte β2-integrin Mac-1 is crucial for leukocyte-endothelium interaction, rendering it an attractive therapeutic target for acute and chronic inflammation. Using phage display, a Designed-Ankyrin-Repeat-Protein (DARPin) was selected as a novel binding protein targeting and blocking the αM I-domain, an activation-specific epitope of Mac-1. This DARPin, named F7, specifically binds to activated Mac-1 on mouse and human monocytes as determined by flow cytometry. Homology modelling and docking studies defined distinct interaction sites which were verified by mutagenesis. Intravital microscopy showed reduced leukocyte-endothelium adhesion in mice treated with this DARPin. Using mouse models of sepsis, myocarditis and ischaemia/reperfusion injury, we demonstrate therapeutic anti-inflammatory effects. Finally, the activated Mac-1-specific DARPin is established as a tool to detect monocyte activation in patients receiving extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation, as well as suffering from sepsis and ST-elevation myocardial infarction. The activated Mac-1-specific DARPin F7 binds preferentially to activated monocytes, detects inflammation in critically ill patients, and inhibits monocyte and neutrophil function as an efficient new anti-inflammatory agent.
Keywords: DARPin; ECMO; Inflammation; Myocardial infarction; Myocarditis; Sepsis.