Direct effects of HP Acthar Gel® on human B lymphocyte activation in vitro

Nancy J. Olsen, Dima A. Decker, Paul Higgins, Patrice M. Becker, Carl A. McAloose, Ann L. Benko, William J. Kovacs

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34 Scopus citations


Introduction: Both clinical experience and experimental evidence have suggested that Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) might directly exert immunomodulatory effects not dependent on adrenal steroidogenesis. Methods: The direct effects of H.P. Acthar Gel® (Acthar), a repository preparation containing a porcine ACTH analogue, on human B lymphocyte function were studied in vitro using peripheral blood B cells isolated using anti-CD19 coated magnetic beads and activated by interleukin 4 (IL-4) and CD40 ligand (CD40L). Analysis of expression of messenger RNA (mRNA) encoding activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AICDA) was carried out by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Cellular proliferation was assessed by a flow cytometric technique using intracellular staining with carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester (CFSE). Immunoglobulin G (IgG) production was measured in cell supernatants using an immunoassay. Results: Acthar was found to exert acute, dose-dependent inhibitory effects on IL-4/CD40L-mediated induction of the expression of activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AICDA) after 24 hours, as well as sustained inhibition of B cell proliferation and IgG production during five more days of culture, without deleterious effects on B cell viability. Conclusions: These experiments demonstrate that Acthar can exert direct effects on the humoral immune system independent of any role in the regulation of adrenal steroidogenesis. Although the impact of these findings on clinical disease was not evaluated in this study, these data support the therapeutic potential of Acthar for the management of autoimmune diseases characterized by B cell activation and aberrant humoral immune function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number300
JournalArthritis Research and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 27 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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