A small molecule, orally active, α4β1/α4β7 dual antagonist reduces leukocyte infiltration and airway hyper-responsiveness in an experimental model of allergic asthma in Brown Norway rats


Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Valencia, Avda. Blasco Ibañez, 15, 46010 Valencia, Spain. E-mail: esteban.morcillo@uv.es


  • α4β1 and α4β7 integrins are preferentially expressed on eosinophils and mononuclear leukocytes and play critical roles in their recruitment to inflammatory sites. We investigated the effects of TR14035, a small molecule, α4β1/α4β7 dual antagonist, in a rat model of allergic asthma.

  • Actively sensitized rats were challenged with aerosol antigen or saline on day 21, and the responses evaluated 24 and 48-h later. TR14035 (3 mg kg−1, p.o.) was given 1-h before and 4-h after antigen or saline challenge.

  • Airway hyper-responsiveness to intravenous 5-hydroxytryptamine was suppressed in TR14035-treated rats. Eosinophil, mononuclear cell and neutrophil counts, and eosinophil peroxidase and protein content in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) were decreased in TR14035-treated rats. Histological study showed a marked reduction of lung inflammatory lesions by TR14035.

  • At 24-h postchallenge, antigen-induced lung interleukin (IL)-5 mRNA upregulation was suppressed in TR14035-treated rats. By contrast, IL-4 levels in BALF were not significantly affected by TR14035 treatment.

  • IL-4 selectively upregulates vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), which is the main endothelial ligand of α4 integrins. Intravital microscopy within the rat mesenteric microcirculation showed that 24-h exposure to 1 μg per rat of IL-4 induced a significant increase in leukocyte rolling flux, adhesion and emigration. These responses were decreased by 48, 100 and 99%, respectively in animals treated with TR14035.

  • In conclusion, TR14035, by acting on α4β1 and α4β7 integrins, is an orally active inhibitor of airway leukocyte recruitment and hyper-responsiveness in animal models with potential interest for the treatment of asthma.

British Journal of Pharmacology (2006) 147, 661–670. doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0706658