Glatiramer acetate (GA) is an immunomodulatory drug approved for the treatment of clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) and relapsing/remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). As an antigen-based therapy, GA induces GA-specific antibodies in treated patients and animals. GA-specific antibodies do not neutralize therapeutic effects on relapses and disability. Rather, it has been suggested that GA-specific antibodies may be associated with improved clinical outcomes. We evaluated antibody responses in eight patients with RRMS treated with GA for 15 months and antibody responses in GA-treated C57BL/6 mice before and after induction of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). There were no significant differences from pretreatment levels of total IgE or GA-specific IgE in patients with RRMS. Total IgG1, IgG3 and GA-specific IgG4 were significantly increased at 15 months of GA treatment. Antibody type and titre were not associated with clinical outcomes, i.e. expanded disability status scale (EDSS) score, disease burden on magnetic resonance images (MRI) or clinical relapses. In contrast, mice with EAE showed a marked increase in GA-specific IgE and GA-specific IgG1 antibody responses. GA-treated mice demonstrated improved clinical symptoms and lower mortality than untreated controls. Our results suggest that antibody responses to GA are heterogeneous among patients with RRMS, with no apparent association between antibody response and clinical outcomes. Clinical improvements in EAE-induced GA-treated mice suggest that GA-specific IgE and IgG1 may contribute to GA treatment effects in EAE.
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