Leukocyte Anti-Trafficking Strategies: Current Status and Future Directions

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Background: In inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), a pivotal step in the initiation and perpetuation of mucosal inflammation entails the recruitment of inflammatory leukocytes to the gut. Understanding the carefully coordinated series of molecular events that culminate in the recruitment of leukocytes to the gut has resulted in novel interventions with new capabilities in treating both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Key Messages: Natalizumab, an anti-α4 integrin antibody, was the first agent to demonstrate the efficacy of this approach for the induction and maintenance of response and remission in Crohn's disease. Widespread adoption was mitigated by the previously unknown risk of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) with this approach. Current approaches employ a more selective inhibition of adhesion molecules targeting the gut to avoid broad suppression of surveillance for JC virus, the causal pathogen of PML. Subsequently, vedolizumab, a humanized anti-α4β7 integrin antibody, has demonstrated efficacy in patients with IBD and has an excellent safety profile. To date, there have been no cases of PML in patients treated with vedolizumab, suggesting that this more selective agent does not have the same risk for PML as natalizumab. Other agents target β7 integrin (etrolizumab) and mucosal addressin cellular adhesion molecule-1, the endothelial ligand of α4β7 integrin. Efforts to inhibit the chemokine receptor CCR9 using the agent CCX282-B in Crohn's disease were not successful. An orally administered anti-α4 integrin compound showed some promise in a phase 2 trial but raises concern for PML. Finally, the S1P1 receptor agonist ozanimod showed promise in early trials in ulcerative colitis. Conclusions: In summary, anti-trafficking agents have the potential to provide safe and effective therapy for IBD, and are a burgeoning class of novel agents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
JournalDigestive Diseases
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • Adhesion molecules
  • Integrins
  • Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy
  • Sphingosine 1 phosphate receptor


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