Nagashima, K. et al. Rapid TNFR1-dependent lymphocyte depletion in vivo with a selective chemical inhibitor of IKKβ. Blood 107, 4266-4273

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The transcription factor NF-kappaB plays a central role in regulating inflammation and apoptosis, making it a compelling target for drug development. We identified a small molecule inhibitor (ML120B) that specifically inhibits IKKbeta, an Ikappa-B kinase that regulates NF-kappaB. IKKbeta and NF-kappaB are required in vivo for prevention of TNFalpha-mediated apoptosis. ML120B sensitized mouse bone marrow progenitors and granulocytes, but not mature B cells to TNFalpha killing in vitro, and induced apoptosis in vivo in the bone marrow and spleen within 6 hours of a single oral dose. In vivo inhibition of IKKbeta with ML120B resulted in depletion of thymocytes and B cells in all stages of development in the bone marrow but did not deplete granulocytes. TNF receptor-deficient mouse thymocytes and B cells were resistant to ML120B-induced depletion in vivo. Surprisingly, surviving bone marrow granulocytes expressed TNFR1 and TNFR2 after dosing in vivo with ML120B. Our results show that inhibition of IKKbeta with a small molecule in vivo leads to rapid TNF-dependent depletion of T and B cells. This observation has several implications for potential use of IKKbeta inhibitors for the treatment of inflammatory disease and cancer.