The Dry Eye Zone

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Abstract: Mapracorat

Mapracorat, a novel selective glucocorticoid receptor agonist, inhibits hyperosmolar-induced cytokine release and MAPK pathways in human corneal epithelial cells.
Mol Vis. 2010 Sep 2;16:1791-800.
Cavet ME, Harrington KL, Ward KW, Zhang JZ.
Pharmaceutical R&D, Bausch & Lomb, Inc., Rochester, NY.

PURPOSE: Increasing evidence suggests that tear hyperosmolarity is a central mechanism causing ocular surface inflammation and damage in dry eye disease. Mapracorat (BOL-303242-X) is a novel glucocorticoid receptor agonist currently under clinical evaluation for use in the treatment of dry eye disease. This study assessed the anti-inflammatory effects of mapracorat in an in vitro osmotic stress model which mimics some of the pathophysiological changes seen in dry eye.

METHODS: Human corneal epithelial cells were cultured in normal osmolar media (317 mOsM) or 440 mOsM hyperosmolar media for 24 h. Luminex technology was used to determine the effect of mapracorat on hyperosmolar-induced cytokine release. Effects of mapracorat on mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation were determined by cell based ELISA. Effects of mapracorat on nuclear factor kappa B (NFkappaB) and activator protein-1 (AP-1) transcriptional activity were assessed by reporter gene assay. Dexamethasone was used as a control.

RESULTS: Hyperosmolar conditions induced release of the pro-inflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-8 (IL-8), and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) from cultured human corneal epithelial cells, and altered the phosphorylation state of p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and transcriptional activity of NFkappaB and AP-1. Incubation of cells with mapracorat inhibited hyperosmolar-induced cytokine release with comparable activity and potency as dexamethasone. This inhibition was reversed by the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist mifepristone (RU-486). Increased phosphorylation of p38 and JNK caused by hyperosmolarity was inhibited by mapracorat. Mapracorat also significantly decreased the hyperosmolar-induced increase in NFkappaB and AP-1 transcriptional activity.

CONCLUSIONS: Mapracorat acts as a potent anti-inflammatory agent in corneal epithelial cells challenged with osmotic stress, with comparable activity to the traditional steroid dexamethasone. These in vitro data suggest that mapracorat may be efficacious in the treatment of dry eye disease.