Intra-articular Injection of a B Cell Depletion Antibody Enhances Local Exposure to the Joint-Draining Lymph Node in Mice with Collagen-Induced Arthritis

Alina D. Lam, Ian K. Styles, Danielle Senyschyn, Enyuan Cao, Abel Anshabo, Mohammad Abdallah, Reyaj Mikrani, Cameron J. Nowell, Christopher J.H. Porter, Orlagh M. Feeney, Natalie L. Trevaskis

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Changes to the number, type, and function of immune cells within the joint-draining lymphatics is a major contributor to the progression of inflammatory arthritis. In particular, there is a significant expansion in pathogenic B cells in the joint-draining lymph node (jdLN). These B cells appear to clog the lymphatic sinuses in the lymph node, inhibit lymph flow, and therefore, reduce the clearance of inflammatory fluid and cells from the joint. Taken together, there is potential to treat inflammatory arthritis more effectively, as well as reduce off-target side effects, with localized delivery of B-cell depleting therapies to the jdLNs. We recently reported that joint-draining lymphatic exposure of biologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), including the B cell depletion antibody rituximab, is increased in healthy rats following intra-articular (IA) compared to subcutaneous (SC) or intravenous (IV) administration. This suggests that IA administration of B cell depleting antibodies may increase delivery to target cells in the jdLN and increase the effectiveness of B cell depletion compared to standard SC or IV administration. However, whether enhanced local delivery of DMARDs to the jdLN is also achieved after IA injection in the setting of inflammatory arthritis, where there is inflammation in the joint and jdLN B cell expansion is unknown. We, therefore, assessed the lymph node distribution, absorption and plasma pharmacokinetics, and B cell depletion at different sites after IA, SC, or IV administration of a fluorescently labeled mouse anti-CD20 B cell depleting antibody (Cy5-αCD20) in healthy mice compared to mice with collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). The absorption and plasma pharmacokinetics of Cy5-αCD20 appeared unaltered in mice with CIA whereas distribution of Cy5-αCD20 to the jdLNs was generally increased in mice with CIA, regardless of the route of administration. However, IA administration led to greater and more specific exposure to the jdLNs. Consistent with increased Cy5-αCD20 in the jdLNs of CIA compared to healthy mice, there was a greater reduction in jdLN weight and a trend toward greater jdLN B cell depletion at 24 h compared to 4 h after IA compared to SC and IV administration. Taken together, this data supports the potential to improve local efficacy of B cell depletion therapies through a jdLN-directed approach which will enable a reduction in dose and systemic toxicities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2053-2066
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2023


  • Arthritis
  • B cell
  • drug delivery
  • intra-articular
  • lymphatics

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