Development of a high-throughput cell-based assay for identification of IL-17 inhibitors

Dobritsa SV, Kuok IT, Nguyen H, Webster JC, Spragg AM, Morley T, Carr GJ.
Source: J Biomol Screen
Publication Date: (2013)
Issue: 18(1): 75-84
Research Area:
Basic Research
Cells used in publication:
T cell, human stim.
Species: human
Tissue Origin: blood
Human interleukin 17 (IL-17) is a proinflammatory cytokine derived mainly from activated T cells. Extensive evidence points to a significant role of IL-17 in many autoimmune and infectious diseases, as well as tumorigenesis and transplant rejection, and suggests that targeting IL-17 could be a promising therapeutic strategy. Robust cell-based assays would thus be essential for lead identification and the optimization of therapeutic candidates. Herein, we report a well-characterized two-step assay, consisting of (a) in vitro activation and stimulation of CD4(+) T lymphocytes by a defined complex of antibodies and cytokines, leading to T helper 17 (Th17) cell differentiation and IL-17 production, and (b) IL-17 quantification in cell supernatants using a homogeneous time-resolved fluorescence (HTRF) assay. The system was optimized for and shown to be reliable in high-throughput compatible 96- and 384-well plate formats. The assay is robust (Z' > 0.5) and simple to perform, yields a stable response, and allows for sufficient discrimination of positive (IL-17-producing cells) and negative controls (uninduced cells). The assay was validated by performing dose-response testing of rapamycin and cyclosporine A, which had previously been reported to inhibit IL-17, and determining, for the first time, their in vitro potencies (IC(50)s of 80 ± 23 pM and 223 ± 52 nM, respectively). Also, IKK 16, a selective small-molecule inhibitor of I?B kinase, was found to inhibit IL-17 production, with an IC(50) of 315 ± 79 nM.