Analysis of the pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic relationship of a small molecule CXCR3 antagonist, NBI-74330, using a murine CXCR3 internalization assay


Department of Pharmacology, UCB Inflammation Discovery, Granta Park, Great Abington, Cambridgeshire CB21 6GS, UK. E-mail:


Background and purpose:

Pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) models are necessary to relate the degree of drug exposure in vivo to target blockade and pharmacological efficacy. This manuscript describes a murine agonist-induced CXCR3 receptor internalization assay and demonstrates its utility for PK/PD analyses.

Experimental approach:

Activated murine DO11.10 cells were incubated with agonist in the presence or absence of a CXCR3 antagonist and changes in surface CXCR3 expression were detected by flow cytometry. For PK/PD analysis, mice were dosed with a small molecule CXCR3 antagonist, NBI-74330, (100 mg kg−1) orally or subcutaneously and plasma samples taken at specified timepoints for the CXCR3 internalization assay.

Key results:

Surface CXCR3 expression was specifically decreased in response to CXCL9, CXCL10 and CXCL11. CXCL11 was the most potent CXCR3 agonist in buffer (pA50=9.23±0.26) and the pA50 for CXCL11 was unaltered in murine plasma (pA50=9.17±0.15). The affinity of a small molecule CXCR3 antagonist, NBI-74330, was obtained in the absence or presence of plasma (buffer pA2 value: 7.84±0.14; plasma pKB value 6.36±0.01). Administration of NBI-74330 to mice resulted in the formation of an N-oxide metabolite, also an antagonist of CXCR3. Both antagonists were detectable up to 7 h post oral dose and 24 h post subcutaneous dose. Measurement of CXCR3 internalization demonstrated significant antagonism of this response ex vivo, 24 h following subcutaneous administration of NBI-74330.

Conclusions and implications:

The CXCR3 receptor internalization assay provides a robust method for determining agonist potency orders, antagonist affinity estimates and PK/PD analyses, which discriminate between dosing regimens for the CXCR3 antagonist NBI-74330.

British Journal of Pharmacology (2007) 152, 1260–1271; doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0707519; published online 5 November 2007