Targeted delivery of mycophenolic acid to the mesenteric lymph node using a triglyceride mimetic prodrug approach enhances gut-specific immunomodulation in mice

Ruby Kochappan, Enyuan Cao, Sifei Han, Luojuan Hu, Tim Quach, Danielle Senyschyn, Vilena Ivanova Ferreira, Given Lee, Nathania Leong, Garima Sharma, Shea Fern Lim, Cameron J. Nowell, Ziqi Chen, Ulrich H. von Andrian, Daniel Bonner, Justine D. Mintern, Jamie S. Simpson, Natalie L. Trevaskis, Christopher J.H. Porter

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7 Citations (Scopus)


The mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN) are a key site for the generation of adaptive immune responses to gut-derived antigenic material and immune cells within the MLN contribute to the pathophysiology of a range of conditions including inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, viral infections, graft versus host disease and cancer. Targeting immunomodulating drugs to the MLN may thus be beneficial in a range of conditions. This paper investigates the potential benefit of targeting a model immunosuppressant drug, mycophenolic acid (MPA), to T cells in the MLN, using a triglyceride (TG) mimetic prodrug approach. We confirmed that administration of MPA in the TG prodrug form (MPA-TG), increased lymphatic transport of MPA-related species 83-fold and increased MLN concentrations of MPA >20 fold, when compared to MPA alone, for up to 4 h in mice. At the same time, the plasma exposure of MPA and MPA-TG was similar, limiting the opportunity for systemic side effects. Confocal microscopy and flow cytometry studies with a fluorescent model prodrug (Bodipy-TG) revealed that the prodrug accumulated in the MLN cortex and paracortex at 5 and 10 h following administration and was highly associated with B cells and T cells that are found in these regions of the MLN. Finally, we demonstrated that MPA-TG was significantly more effective than MPA at inhibiting CD4+ and CD8+ T cell proliferation in the MLN of mice in response to an oral ovalbumin antigen challenge. In contrast, MPA-TG was no more effective than MPA at inhibiting T cell proliferation in peripheral LN when mice were challenged via SC administration of ovalbumin. This paper provides the first evidence of an in vivo pharmacodynamic benefit of targeting the MLN using a TG mimetic prodrug approach. The TG mimetic prodrug technology has the potential to benefit the treatment of a range of conditions where aberrant immune responses are initiated in gut-associated lymphoid tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)636-651
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2021


  • Immunomodulation
  • Lipid
  • Lymph
  • Mesenteric lymph node
  • Prodrug
  • Targeted drug delivery

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