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3935 NLRP3 Inflammasome-Mediated Platelet Activation and Thrombus Formation in Sickle Cell Mice Can be Targeted By the BTK Inhibitor Ibrutinib

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 301. Vasculature, Endothelium, Thrombosis and Platelets: Basic and Translational: Poster III
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Research, Sickle Cell Disease, Translational Research, Hemoglobinopathies, Diseases, immune mechanism, Therapies, Biological Processes
Monday, December 11, 2023, 6:00 PM-8:00 PM

Sebastian Vogel, MD, PhD1, Sayuri Kamimura1*, Meghann L. Smith1*, Eric Nguyen, PhD2*, Patricia Zerfas, MS3*, Luis E.F. Almeida, MD, PhD1*, Kapil Bharti, PhD2*, Christian Combs, PhD4* and Zenaide Quezado, MD1

1Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
2National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
3Office of Research Services, Division of Veterinary Resources, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
4National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

Introduction: Platelets are abnormally activated in sickle cell disease (SCD) and are involved in promoting vascular occlusions and thrombosis. The NOD like receptor protein 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome is a critical inflammatory mediator that has recently been found to be upregulated in platelets in SCD. Our recent discovery of Bruton Tyrosine Kinase (BTK) as a regulator of the NLRP3 inflammasome has provided an opportunity to suppress NLRP3 inflammasome activation in platelets via the BTK inhibitor ibrutinib. The role of the NLRP3 inflammasome in regulating platelet activation in SCD and its potential targetability through BTK inhibition is poorly understood.

Methods: Townes SCD mice, which express human sickle hemoglobin (HbSS), and control mice (HbAA) at age 16 to 28 weeks were used for this study. Where indicated, mice were injected with the NLRP3 inhibitor MCC950, the BTK inhibitor ibrutinib or vehicle control 4 hours prior to blood collection. NLRP3 inflammasome activation was assessed in isolated platelets with fluorescent labeled inhibitor of caspase-1 (FLICA) assay and immunofluorescence staining of intraplatelet NLRP3 and the adaptor apoptosis-associated speck-like protein containing a CARD (ASC) with confocal microscopy. We measured platelet surface expression of P-selectin (CD62P), platelet ATP secretion, platelet spreading, platelet aggregation, and in vitro thrombus formation using flow cytometry, luminescence, scanning electron microscopy, whole blood impedance aggregometry, and a flow chamber with blood perfused at shear rates of 1,700 s-1, respectively. Isolated platelets or blood samples were treated with the NLRP3 activator nigericin where indicated. Collagen was used as platelet agonist. Data are shown as mean ± SD.

Results: We found increased platelet P-selectin expression (CD62P%: 74.57 ± 3.03 vs 35.18 ± 0.73, p<0.01), platelet ATP secretion (AUC: 16.24 ± 2.17 vs 3.16 ± 0.94, p<0.01), platelet spreading (spreading area, µm2: 5.47 ± 1.97 vs 2.35 ± 0.23, p<0.01), platelet aggregation (AUC: 68.18 ± 6.84 vs 36.28 ± 3.29, p<0.01), and thrombus formation (thrombus area %: 64.24 ± 14.64 vs 27.44 ± 5.99, p<0.05) in blood from SCD mice as compared to control mice. NLRP3:ASC speck formation (Pearson coefficient: 0.62 ± 0.03 vs 0.38 ± 0.02, p<0.001) and caspase-1 activation levels (RFUs: 476.6 ± 54.84 vs 237.8 ± 50.09, p<0.001) were elevated in platelets from SCD mice as compared to control mice, indicating platelet NLRP3 inflammasome activation in SCD mice. Next, we investigated the role of the NLRP3 inflammasome in regulating platelet function in SCD mice. Treatment of mice with the NLRP3 inhibitor MCC950 resulted in a reduction of upregulated platelet P-selectin expression (CD62P%: 33.55 ± 17.21 vs 74.23 ± 9.95, p<0.001), platelet ATP secretion (AUC: 5.98 ± 1.2 vs 13 ± 2.91, p<0.001), platelet spreading (spreading area, µm2: 2.42 ± 0.75 vs 5.47 ± 1.97, p<0.001), platelet aggregation (AUC: 39.85 ± 2.5 vs 64.65 ± 6.5, p<0.001), and thrombus formation (thrombus area %: 41.63 ± 7.78 vs 70.22 ± 5.5, p<0.001) (MCC950 vs vehicle) in SCD mice but had no effect in control mice. We next investigated the effect of the BTK inhibitor ibrutinib. Injection of ibrutinib interfered with elevated platelet NLRP3 inflammasome activation in SCD mice, as shown by quantification of intraplatelet NLRP3:ASC specks (Pearson coefficient: 0.56 ± 0.04 vs 0.72 ± 0.03, p<0.001) and platelet caspase-1 activity (RFUs: 193 ± 55.24 vs 386.8 ± 88.08, p<0.001) (ibrutinib vs vehicle) but had no effect in control mice. Ibrutinib treatment decreased upregulated platelet P-selectin (CD62P%: 37.81 ± 10.65 vs 64.74 ± 17.73, p<0.01), platelet ATP secretion (AUC: 6.78 ± 0.24 vs 13.9 ± 1.12, p<0.001), platelet spreading (spreading area, µm2: 2.32 ± 0.79 vs 6.45 ± 0.99, p<0.001), platelet aggregation (AUC: 40.08 ± 3.56 vs 62.13 ± 3.99, p<0.001), and thrombus formation (thrombus area, %: 44.42 ± 8.24 vs 66.97 ± 11.83, p<0.001) (ibrutinib vs vehicle) in SCD mice. The NLRP3 activator nigericin reversed these inhibitory effects of ibrutinib in SCD mice, indicating that ibrutinib interferes with platelet activation and thrombus formation in SCD mice through the NLRP3 inflammasome.

Conclusion: The NLRP3 inflammasome is a critical mediator of platelet activation and thrombus formation in SCD mice, which is targetable by the BTK inhibitor ibrutinib, making it a potentially useful therapeutic approach for managing the prothrombotic state in SCD.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

*signifies non-member of ASH