Use of In Vitro Human Skin Models to Assess Potential Immune Activation In Response to Biotherapeutic Attributes and Process-related Impurities

Joshua M. Tokuda, Jiansong Xie, Vibha Jawa, Jenn M. Hawkins, John Ferbas, Nathan H. Joh, Marisa K. Joubert

Subcutaneous (SubQ) injection is a common administration route for biotherapeutics. However, limited tools are available for understanding the dynamic relationships between drug products and resident cells following injection. Advances in tissue engineering have enabled the production of in vitro skin models that recapitulate the morphological structure and functional activity of human skin. Here we explore the use of a commercially available skin model to investigate potential immune activation in response to subcutaneously injected biotherapeutics. Exposure to high levels of a mixture of process-related impurities (that are known potent immune system activators) induced a robust immune response from the skin model, as indicated by enhanced metabolic activity and increased secretion of 19 cytokines and chemokines. The skin model also
responded to aggregated antibodies (generated by extreme mechanical stirring and pH-jump stress, which resulted in orders of magnitude higher particle numbers than that found in products), as shown by the secretion of several signature cytokines (GM-CSF, RANTES, and MCP-1). However, the magnitude of the responses to the aggregates were significantly lower than the response to the impurities. These results highlight the promising utility of in vitro skin models for investigating the potential immune response to process-related impurities and biotherapeutic attributes in a subcutaneous environment. The use of skin models for assessing drug safety may provide new insights to help guide drug product and process development, and potentially mitigate the risk of injection site reactions and systemic immunogenic responses that may compromise the safety and efficacy of subcutaneously administered drugs.


EpiDerm-FT (EFT-400-HCF), process related impurities, biotherapeutics, immune response, impurities, monoclonal antibodies, pH-induced mAb aggregates, stirring induced mAb aggregates, subcutaneous drug injection, TLR activator mixture, TLR 1-9 agonist kit, TLR1/2 Pam3CSK4, TLR2 HKLM, TLR3 (Poly(I:C)-HMW, Poly(I:C)-LMW, TLR4 LPS E.coli K12, TLR5 Flagellin S. typhimurium,TLR6/2 FSL1, TLR7 Imiquimod, TLR8 ssRNA40/ LyoVec, TLR9 ODN2006, proinflammatory cytokines, EGF, GM-CSF, IFNg, IL-1a, IL-1b, IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-7, IL-8, IL-10, IL-12p70, IL-13, IL-15, IL-17A, MCP-1, MIP-1a, MIP-1b, IP-10, RANTES, TNFa, VEGF, light obscuration

Materials Tested

TLR activator mixture, monoclonal antibodies (mAb) aggregates

Request a copy of this paper, click here.