Ibrutinib is an irreversible molecular inhibitor of ITK driving a Th1-selective pressure in T lymphocytes

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Given its critical role in T-cell signaling, interleukin-2-inducible kinase (ITK) is an appealing therapeutic target that can contribute to the pathogenesis of certain infectious, autoimmune, and neoplastic diseases. Ablation of ITK subverts Th2 immunity, thereby potentiating Th1-based immune responses. While small-molecule ITK inhibitors have been identified, none have demonstrated clinical utility. Ibrutinib is a confirmed irreversible inhibitor of Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) with outstanding clinical activity and tolerability in B-cell malignancies. Significant homology between BTK and ITK alongside in silico docking studies support ibrutinib as an immunomodulatory inhibitor of both ITK and BTK. Our comprehensive molecular and phenotypic analysis confirms ITK as an irreversible T-cell target of ibrutinib. Using ibrutinib clinical trial samples along with well-characterized neoplastic (chronic lymphocytic leukemia), parasitic infection (Leishmania major), and infectious disease (Listeria monocytogenes) models, we establish ibrutinib as a clinically relevant and physiologically potent ITK inhibitor with broad therapeutic utility. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT01105247 and #NCT01217749.




Dubovsky, J. A., Beckwith, K. A., Natarajan, G., Woyach, J. A., Jaglowski, S., Zhong, Y., … Byrd, J. C. (2013). Ibrutinib is an irreversible molecular inhibitor of ITK driving a Th1-selective pressure in T lymphocytes. Blood, 122(15), 2539–2549. https://doi.org/10.1182/blood-2013-06-507947

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