Integrin-directed antibody-based immunotherapy: focus on VLA-4

Immunother Adv. 2021 Feb 9;1(1):ltab002. doi: 10.1093/immadv/ltab002. eCollection 2021 Jan.


One major finding of chronic inflammatory diseases of various origins is the establishment of inflammatory infiltrates, bearing different leukocyte subpopulations, including activated T lymphocytes. Integrins are among the large series of molecular interactions that have been implicated as players in both triggering and maintenance of leukocyte influx from the blood into a given organ parenchyme. Accordingly, blocking the interaction between VLA-6 integrin and laminin, experimentally abrogates heart graft rejection. Many reports have shown that VLA-4 is used by T cells to cross endothelial barriers, as well as to migrate within target tissues. In this respect, a humanized IgG4 anti-VLA-4 monoclonal antibody (specific to the α4-integrin chain of VLA-4) has been successfully applied to treat multiple sclerosis as well as inflammatory bowel disease. Anti-VLA-4 monoclonal antibody has also been applied to block transendothelial passage in other autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. On this same vein is the action of such a reagent in impairing in vitro transendothial and fibronectin-driven migration of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells expressing high densities of VLA-4 from Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients, thus potentially enlarging the use of this strategy to other diseases. Yet, in a small number of patients, the use of Natalizumab has been correlated with the progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, a serious brain infection caused by the John Cunningham virus. This issue restricted the use of the reagent. In this respect, the development of smaller and more specific antibody reagents should be envisioned as a next-generation promising strategy.

Keywords: T cells; cell trafficking; immunotherapy; neuroimmunology.

Publication types

  • Review