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      JAK–STAT Signaling as a Target for Inflammatory and Autoimmune Diseases: Current and Future Prospects

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          Abstract

          The Janus kinase/signal transduction and activator of transcription (JAK–STAT) signaling pathway is implicated in the pathogenesis of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Many cytokines involved in the pathogenesis of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases use JAKs and STATs to transduce intracellular signals. Mutations in JAK and STAT genes cause a number of immunodeficiency syndromes, and polymorphisms in these genes are associated with autoimmune diseases. The success of small-molecule JAK inhibitors (Jakinibs) in the treatment of rheumatologic disease demonstrates that intracellular signaling pathways can be targeted therapeutically to treat autoimmunity. Tofacitinib, the first rheumatologic Jakinib, is US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for rheumatoid arthritis and is currently under investigation for other autoimmune diseases. Many other Jakinibs are in preclinical development or in various phases of clinical trials. This review describes the JAK–STAT pathway, outlines its role in autoimmunity, and explains the rationale/pre-clinical evidence for targeting JAK–STAT signaling. The safety and clinical efficacy of the Jakinibs are reviewed, starting with the FDA-approved Jakinib tofacitinib, and continuing on to next-generation Jakinibs. Recent and ongoing studies are emphasized, with a focus on emerging indications for JAK inhibition and novel mechanisms of JAK–STAT signaling blockade.

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          Most cited references 131

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          Placebo-controlled trial of tofacitinib monotherapy in rheumatoid arthritis.

          Tofacitinib (CP-690,550) is a novel oral Janus kinase inhibitor that is being investigated as a targeted immunomodulator and disease-modifying therapy for rheumatoid arthritis. In this phase 3, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, 6-month study, 611 patients were randomly assigned, in a 4:4:1:1 ratio, to 5 mg of tofacitinib twice daily, 10 mg of tofacitinib twice daily, placebo for 3 months followed by 5 mg of tofacitinib twice daily, or placebo for 3 months followed by 10 mg of tofacitinib twice daily. The primary end points, assessed at month 3, were the percentage of patients with at least a 20% improvement in the American College of Rheumatology scale (ACR 20), the change from baseline in Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index (HAQ-DI) scores (which range from 0 to 3, with higher scores indicating greater disability), and the percentage of patients with a Disease Activity Score for 28-joint counts based on the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (DAS28-4[ESR]) of less than 2.6 (with scores ranging from 0 to 9.4 and higher scores indicating more disease activity). At month 3, a higher percentage of patients in the tofacitinib groups than in the placebo groups met the criteria for an ACR 20 response (59.8% in the 5-mg tofacitinib group and 65.7% in the 10-mg tofacitinib group vs. 26.7% in the combined placebo groups, P<0.001 for both comparisons). The reductions from baseline in HAQ-DI scores were greater in the 5-mg and 10-mg tofacitinib groups than in the placebo groups (-0.50 and -0.57 points, respectively, vs. -0.19 points; P<0.001). The percentage of patients with a DAS28-4(ESR) of less than 2.6 was not significantly higher with tofacitinib than with placebo (5.6% and 8.7% in the 5-mg and 10-mg tofacitinib groups, respectively, and 4.4% with placebo; P=0.62 and P=0.10 for the two comparisons). Serious infections developed in six patients who were receiving tofacitinib. Common adverse events were headache and upper respiratory tract infection. Tofacitinib treatment was associated with elevations in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and reductions in neutrophil counts. In patients with active rheumatoid arthritis, tofacitinib monotherapy was associated with reductions in signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and improvement in physical function. (Funded by Pfizer; ORAL Solo ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00814307.).
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            Tofacitinib or adalimumab versus placebo in rheumatoid arthritis.

            Tofacitinib (CP-690,550) is a novel oral Janus kinase inhibitor that is being investigated for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. In this 12-month, phase 3 trial, 717 patients who were receiving stable doses of methotrexate were randomly assigned to 5 mg of tofacitinib twice daily, 10 mg of tofacitinib twice daily, 40 mg of adalimumab once every 2 weeks, or placebo. At month 3, patients in the placebo group who did not have a 20% reduction from baseline in the number of swollen and tender joints were switched in a blinded fashion to either 5 mg or 10 mg of tofacitinib twice daily; at month 6, all patients still receiving placebo were switched to tofacitinib in a blinded fashion. The three primary outcome measures were a 20% improvement at month 6 in the American College of Rheumatology scale (ACR 20); the change from baseline to month 3 in the score on the Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index (HAQ-DI) (which ranges from 0 to 3, with higher scores indicating greater disability); and the percentage of patients at month 6 who had a Disease Activity Score for 28-joint counts based on the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (DAS28-4[ESR]) of less than 2.6 (with scores ranging from 0 to 9.4 and higher scores indicating greater disease activity). At month 6, ACR 20 response rates were higher among patients receiving 5 mg or 10 mg of tofacitinib (51.5% and 52.6%, respectively) and among those receiving adalimumab (47.2%) than among those receiving placebo (28.3%) (P<0.001 for all comparisons). There were also greater reductions in the HAQ-DI score at month 3 and higher percentages of patients with a DAS28-4(ESR) below 2.6 at month 6 in the active-treatment groups than in the placebo group. Adverse events occurred more frequently with tofacitinib than with placebo, and pulmonary tuberculosis developed in two patients in the 10-mg tofacitinib group. Tofacitinib was associated with an increase in both low-density and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and with reductions in neutrophil counts. In patients with rheumatoid arthritis receiving background methotrexate, tofacitinib was significantly superior to placebo and was numerically similar to adalimumab in efficacy. (Funded by Pfizer; ORAL Standard ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00853385.).
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              STAT4 and the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

              Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease with a substantial genetic component. Susceptibility to disease has been linked with a region on chromosome 2q. We tested single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in and around 13 candidate genes within the previously linked chromosome 2q region for association with rheumatoid arthritis. We then performed fine mapping of the STAT1-STAT4 region in a total of 1620 case patients with established rheumatoid arthritis and 2635 controls, all from North America. Implicated SNPs were further tested in an independent case-control series of 1529 patients with early rheumatoid arthritis and 881 controls, all from Sweden, and in a total of 1039 case patients and 1248 controls from three series of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. A SNP haplotype in the third intron of STAT4 was associated with susceptibility to both rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. The minor alleles of the haplotype-defining SNPs were present in 27% of chromosomes of patients with established rheumatoid arthritis, as compared with 22% of those of controls (for the SNP rs7574865, P=2.81x10(-7); odds ratio for having the risk allele in chromosomes of patients vs. those of controls, 1.32). The association was replicated in Swedish patients with recent-onset rheumatoid arthritis (P=0.02) and matched controls. The haplotype marked by rs7574865 was strongly associated with lupus, being present on 31% of chromosomes of case patients and 22% of those of controls (P=1.87x10(-9); odds ratio for having the risk allele in chromosomes of patients vs. those of controls, 1.55). Homozygosity of the risk allele, as compared with absence of the allele, was associated with a more than doubled risk for lupus and a 60% increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis. A haplotype of STAT4 is associated with increased risk for both rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus, suggesting a shared pathway for these illnesses. Copyright 2007 Massachusetts Medical Society.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                301-451-7616 , shubhasree.banerjee@nih.gov
                Journal
                Drugs
                Drugs
                Drugs
                Springer International Publishing (Cham )
                0012-6667
                1179-1950
                3 March 2017
                2017
                : 77
                : 5
                : 521-546
                Affiliations
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2237 2479, GRID grid.420086.8, Rheumatology Fellowship and Training Branch, , National Institute of Arthritis Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, ; Bethesda, Maryland USA
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2297 5165, GRID grid.94365.3d, Clinical Center, , National Institutes of Health, ; Bethesda, Maryland USA
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2237 2479, GRID grid.420086.8, Translational Immunology Section, , National Institute of Arthritis Musculoskeletal and Skin diseases, National Institutes of Health, ; Bethesda, Maryland USA
                [4 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2237 2479, GRID grid.420086.8, Lupus Clinical Research Program, , National Institute of Arthritis Musculoskeletal and Skin diseases, National Institutes of Health, ; Bethesda, Maryland USA
                [5 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2237 2479, GRID grid.420086.8, Molecular Immunology and Inflammation Branch, , National Institute of Arthritis Musculoskeletal and Skin diseases, National Institutes of Health, ; Bethesda, Maryland USA
                Article
                701
                10.1007/s40265-017-0701-9
                7102286
                28255960
                3fbc709e-c80a-45bd-9db2-e72e2c52577a
                © Springer International Publishing Switzerland (outside the USA) 2017

                This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted research re-use and secondary analysis in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic.

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                © Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

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