A novel anti-human IL-1R7 antibody reduces IL-18-mediated inflammatory signaling

J Biol Chem. Jan-Jun 2021;296:100630. doi: 10.1016/j.jbc.2021.100630. Epub 2021 Apr 3.


Unchecked inflammation can result in severe diseases with high mortality, such as macrophage activation syndrome (MAS). MAS and associated cytokine storms have been observed in COVID-19 patients exhibiting systemic hyperinflammation. Interleukin-18 (IL-18), a proinflammatory cytokine belonging to the IL-1 family, is elevated in both MAS and COVID-19 patients, and its level is known to correlate with the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. IL-18 binds its specific receptor IL-1 receptor 5 (IL-1R5, also known as IL-18 receptor alpha chain), leading to the recruitment of the coreceptor, IL-1 receptor 7 (IL-1R7, also known as IL-18 receptor beta chain). This heterotrimeric complex then initiates downstream signaling, resulting in systemic and local inflammation. Here, we developed a novel humanized monoclonal anti-IL-1R7 antibody to specifically block the activity of IL-18 and its inflammatory signaling. We characterized the function of this antibody in human cell lines, in freshly obtained peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and in human whole blood cultures. We found that the anti-IL-1R7 antibody significantly suppressed IL-18-mediated NFκB activation, reduced IL-18-stimulated IFNγ and IL-6 production in human cell lines, and reduced IL-18-induced IFNγ, IL-6, and TNFα production in PBMCs. Moreover, the anti-IL-1R7 antibody significantly inhibited LPS- and Candida albicans-induced IFNγ production in PBMCs, as well as LPS-induced IFNγ production in whole blood cultures. Our data suggest that blocking IL-1R7 could represent a potential therapeutic strategy to specifically modulate IL-18 signaling and may warrant further investigation into its clinical potential for treating IL-18-mediated diseases, including MAS and COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; IFNγ; IL-1 receptor 7 (IL-1R7); blockade; interleukin-18 (IL-18); macrophage activation syndrome (MAS); therapeutic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / metabolism
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / biosynthesis
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology*
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / biosynthesis
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / pharmacology*
  • COVID-19 / drug therapy
  • Candida albicans / growth & development
  • Candida albicans / pathogenicity
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / biosynthesis
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology*
  • Inflammation
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Interleukin-18 / genetics*
  • Interleukin-18 / immunology
  • Interleukin-6 / genetics
  • Interleukin-6 / immunology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / microbiology
  • Lipopolysaccharides / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Macrophage Activation Syndrome / drug therapy
  • NF-kappa B / genetics
  • NF-kappa B / immunology
  • Primary Cell Culture
  • Receptors, Interleukin-18 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Interleukin-18 / genetics*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-18 / immunology
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology
  • SARS-CoV-2 / pathogenicity
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • IL6 protein, human
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Interleukin-18
  • Interleukin-6
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • NF-kappa B
  • Receptors, Interleukin-18
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interferon-gamma