Objectives: We assessed the safety of ustekinumab (a monoclonal antibody used in psoriasis to target the IL-12 and IL-23 pathways) in a small cohort of recent-onset (<100 days of diagnosis) adults with type 1 diabetes (T1D) by conducting a pilot open-label dose-finding and mechanistic study (NCT02117765) at the University of British Columbia.
Methods: We sequentially enrolled 20 participants into four subcutaneous dosing cohorts: (i) 45 mg loading weeks 0/4/16, (ii) 45 mg maintenance weeks 0/4/16/28/40, (iii) 90 mg loading weeks 0/4/16, and (iv) 90 mg maintenance weeks 0/4/16/28/40. The primary endpoint was safety as assessed by an independent data and safety monitoring board (DSMB) but we also measured mixed meal tolerance test C-peptide, insulin use/kg, and HbA1c. Immunophenotyping was performed to assess immune cell subsets and islet antigen-specific T cell responses.
Results: Although several adverse events were reported, only two (bacterial vaginosis and hallucinations) were thought to be possibly related to drug administration by the study investigators. At 1 year, the 90 mg maintenance dosing cohort had the smallest mean decline in C-peptide area under the curve (AUC) (0.1 pmol/ml). Immunophenotyping showed that ustekinumab reduced the percentage of circulating Th17, Th1, and Th17.1 cells and proinsulin-specific T cells that secreted IFN-γ and IL-17A.
Conclusion: Ustekinumab was deemed safe to progress to efficacy studies by the DSMB at doses used to treat psoriasis in adults with T1D. A 90 mg maintenance dosing schedule reduced proinsulin-specific IFN-γ and IL-17A-producing T cells. Further studies are warranted to determine if ustekinumab can prevent C-peptide AUC decline and induce a clinical response.
Keywords: clinical trial; immunomodulatory; type 1 diabetes; ustekinumab.
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Immunology.