Pharmacological Screening Identifies SHK242 and SHK277 as Novel Arginase Inhibitors With Efficacy Against Allergen-Induced Airway Narrowing In Vitro and In Vivo

van den Berg MPM, Kurhade SH, Maarsingh H, Erceg S, Hulsbeek IR, Boekema PH, Kistemaker LEM, van Faassen M, Kema IP, Elsinga PH, Dömling A, Meurs H, Gosens R.

J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2020 Jul;374(1):62-73.

Publication: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32269169/

Abstract

Arginase is a potential target for asthma treatment. However, there are currently no arginase inhibitors available for clinical use. Here, a novel class of arginase inhibitors was synthesized, and their efficacy was pharmacologically evaluated. The reference compound 2(S)-amino-6-boronohexanoic acid (ABH) and >200 novel arginase inhibitors were tested for their ability to inhibit recombinant human arginase 1 and 2 in vitro. The most promising compounds were separated as enantiomers. Enantiomer pairs SHK242 and SHK243, and SHK277 and SHK278 were tested for functional efficacy by measuring their effect on allergen-induced airway narrowing in lung slices of ovalbumin-sensitized guinea pigs ex vivo. A guinea pig model of acute allergic asthma was used to examine the effect of the most efficacious enantiopure arginase inhibitors on allergen-induced airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR), early and late asthmatic reactions (EAR and LAR), and airway inflammation in vivo. The novel compounds were efficacious in inhibiting arginase 1 and 2 in vitro. The enantiopure SHK242 and SHK277 fully inhibited arginase activity, with IC50 values of 3.4 and 10.5 μM for arginase 1 and 2.9 and 4.0 µM for arginase 2, respectively. Treatment of slices with ABH or novel compounds resulted in decreased ovalbumin-induced airway narrowing compared with control, explained by increased local nitric oxide production in the airway. In vivo, ABH, SHK242, and SHK277 protected against allergen-induced EAR and LAR but not against AHR or lung inflammation. We have identified promising novel arginase inhibitors for the potential treatment of allergic asthma that were able to protect against allergen-induced early and late asthmatic reactions. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Arginase is a potential drug target for asthma treatment, but currently there are no arginase inhibitors available for clinical use. We have identified promising novel arginase inhibitors for the potential treatment of allergic asthma that were able to protect against allergen-induced early and late asthmatic reactions. Our new inhibitors show protective effects in reducing airway narrowing in response to allergens and reductions in the early and late asthmatic response.

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