A novel treatment of cystic fibrosis acting on-target: cysteamine plus epigallocatechin gallate for the autophagy-dependent rescue of class II-mutated CFTR.
Tosco A, De Gregorio F, Esposito S, De Stefano D, Sana I, Ferrari E, Sepe A, Salvadori L, Buonpensiero P, Di Pasqua A, Grassia R, Leone CA,Guido S, De Rosa G, Lusa S, Bona G, Stoll G, Maiuri MC, Mehta A, Kroemer G, Maiuri L, Raia V.
We previously reported that the combination of two safe proteostasis regulators, cysteamine andepigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), can be used to improve deficient expression of the cystic fibrosistransmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) in patients homozygous for the CFTR Phe508del mutation. Here we provide the proof-of-concept that this combination treatment restored CFTR function and reduced lung inflammation (P<0.001) in Phe508del/Phe508del or Phe508del/null-Cftr (but not in Cftr-null mice), provided that such mice were autophagy-competent. Primary nasal cells from patients bearing different class II CFTR mutations, either in homozygous or compound heterozygous form, responded to the treatment in vitro. We assessed individual responses to cysteamine plus EGCG in a single-centre, open-label phase-2 trial. The combination treatment decreased sweat chloride from baseline, increased both CFTR protein and function in nasal cells, restored autophagy in such cells, decreased CXCL8 and TNF-α in the sputum, and tended to improve respiratory function. These positive effects were particularly strong in patients carrying Phe508del CFTR mutations in homozygosity or heterozygosity. However, a fraction of patients bearing other CFTR mutations failed to respond to therapy. Importantly, the same patients whose primary nasal brushed cells did not respond to cysteamine plus EGCG in vitro also exhibited deficient therapeutic responses in vivo. Altogether, these results suggest that the combination treatment of cysteamine plus EGCG acts 'on-target' because it can only rescue CFTR function when autophagy is functional (in mice) and improves CFTR function when a rescuable protein is expressed (in mice and men). These results should spur the further clinical development of the combination treatment.