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AZ617, humanized mouse, huNOG-EXL, human hematopoietic stem cell, toll-like receptor, human cytokine induction, steroid, IRAK4
Mouse models with humanized immune systems are becoming increasingly prevalent in pharmaceutical research as a platform for preclinical testing with potential for greater translatability to clinical applications. However,the presence of both mouse and human cells that respond to TLR ligands poses a challenge for investigating therapeutic modalities targeting TLR signaling. AZ617 is a human TLR4 agonist,which has been shown in vitro to preferentially induce human cytokines via the TLR4 signaling pathway. We sought to examine the ability of AZ617 to preferentially induce human cytokines in CD34+ stem cell-engrafted NOG-EXL mice (huNOG-EXL), to determine its suitability as an in vivo human functional readout. AZ617 elicited a strong human TNFα and IL-6 response in vivo that demonstrated a 10- and 5-fold preference, respectively, over the mouse TNFα and IL-6. To assess efficacy of inhibiting a key protein in the TLR4 signaling pathway, PF-06650833, a small molecule inhibitor of IRAK4, was used as a tool molecule. PF-0660833 was found to effectively inhibit AZ617-induced human TNFα release in vitro. Likewise, PF-06650833 reduced AZ617-induced human TNFα in the huNOG-EXL mouse model, with a weaker effect on human IL-6. A longitudinal study tracking functionality of monocytes revealed that the ability of monocytes to respond to ex vivo stimuli was increased by 21 weeks after engraftment. Taken together, our data suggests that human selective TLR ligands could preferentially drive cytokine production from human cells in huNOG-EXL mice. This model will allow for investigation of pharmacological inhibition of human TLR signaling pathways in an in vivo model system.
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