In-vitro evaluation of the immunomodulatory effects of baricitinib: implication for COVID-19 therapy

Objective: Baricitinib seems a promising therapy for COVID-19. To fully-investigate its effects, we in-vitro evaluated the impact of baricitinib on the SARS-CoV-2-specific-response using the whole-blood platform.

Methods: We evaluated baricitinib effect on the IFN-γ-release and on a panel of soluble factors by multiplex-technology after stimulating whole-blood from 39 COVID-19 patients with SARS-CoV-2 antigens. Staphylococcal Enterotoxin B (SEB) antigen was used as a positive control.

Results: In-vitro exogenous addition of baricitinib significantly decreased IFN-γ response to spike- (median: 0.21, IQR: 0.01-1; spike+baricitinib 1000 nM median: 0.05, IQR: 0-0.18; p<0.0001) and to the remainder-antigens (median: 0.08 IQR: 0-0.55; remainder-antigens+baricitinib 1000 nM median: 0.03, IQR: 0-0.14; p=0.0013). Moreover, baricitinib significantly decreased SEB-induced response (median: 12.52, IQR: 9.7-15.2; SEB+baricitinib 1000 nM median: 8, IQR: 1.44-12.16; p<0.0001). Baricitinib did modulate other soluble factors besides IFN-γ, significantly decreasing the spike-specific-response mediated by IL-17, IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α, IL-4, IL-13, IL-1ra, IL-10, GM-CSF, FGF, IP-10, MCP-1, MIP-1β (p≤0.0156). The baricitinib-decreased SARS-CoV-2-specific-response was observed mainly in mild/moderate COVID-19 and in those with lymphocyte count ≥1 × 103/µl.

Conclusions: Exogenous addition of baricitinib decreases the in-vitro SARS-CoV-2-specific response in COVID-19 patients using a whole-blood platform. These results are the first to show the effects of this therapy on the immune-specific viral response.

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Cat.No. Product Name Information Publications Customer Product Validation
S2851 Baricitinib (INCB028050) Baricitinib (LY3009104, INCB028050) is a selective JAK1 and JAK2 inhibitor with IC50 of 5.9 nM and 5.7 nM in cell-free assays, ~70 and ~10-fold selective versus JAK3 and Tyk2, no inhibition to c-Met and Chk2. Baricitinib is found to reduce or interrupt the passage of the virus into target cells and is used in the treatment research for COVID-19. Phase 3. (17) (4)

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