Targeted photodynamic therapy selectively kills activated fibroblasts in experimental arthritis.

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In RA, synovial fibroblasts become activated. These cells express fibroblast activation protein (FAP) and contribute to the pathogenesis by producing cytokines, chemokines and proteases. Selective depletion in inflamed joints could therefore constitute a viable treatment option. To this end, we developed and tested a new therapeutic strategy based on the selective destruction of FAP-positive cells by targeted photodynamic therapy (tPDT) using the anti-FAP antibody 28H1 coupled to the photosensitizer IRDye700DX.After conjugation of IRDye700DX to 28H1, the immunoreactive binding and specificity of the conjugate were determined. Subsequently, tPDT efficiency was established in vitro using a 3T3 cell line stably transfected with FAP. The biodistribution of [111In]In-DTPA-28H1 with and without IRDye700DX was assessed in healthy C57BL/6N mice and in C57BL/6N mice with antigen-induced arthritis. The potential of FAP-tPDT to induce targeted damage was determined ex vivo by treating knee joints from C57BL/6N mice with antigen-induced arthritis 24 h after injection of the conjugate. Finally, the effect of FAP-tPDT on arthritis development was determined in mice with collagen-induced arthritis.28H1-700DX was able to efficiently induce FAP-specific cell death in vitro. Accumulation of the anti-FAP antibody in arthritic knee joints was not affected by conjugation with the photosensitizer. Arthritis development was moderately delayed in mice with collagen-induced arthritis after FAP-tPDT.Here we demonstrate the feasibility of tPDT to selectively target and kill FAP-positive fibroblasts in vitro and modulate arthritis in vivo using a mouse model of RA. This approach may have therapeutic potential in (refractory) arthritis.

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