Methionine aminopeptidase-2 (MetAP-2) inhibitors have potent anti-angiogenesis activity and are being developed for the treatment of solid tumours. The recently observed specific expression of MetAP-2 in germinal centre B cells suggests that it has a role in regulating B cell function. We have demonstrated a potent MetAP-2-dependent inhibitory effect on the antibody secretion from B cell receptor and CD40 co-stimulated primary human B cells in the presence of interleukin-21. The effect of MetAP-2 inhibition on antibody secretion was due to a block in differentiation of B cells into plasma cells. Immunohistochemical analysis of germinal centres from human, mouse and marmoset spleen showed a similar expression pattern of MetAP-2 in the marmoset and man, whereas mouse spleen showed no detectable expression. In a marmoset, T dependent immunization model, the MetAP-2 inhibitor suppressed an antigen-specific antibody response. Furthermore, histological analysis showed loss of B cells in the spleen and disrupted germinal centre formation. These results provide experimental evidence to support a novel role for MetAP-2 in immunomodulation. These effects of MetAP-2 are mediated by disruption of the germinal centre reaction and a block in the differentiation of B cells into plasma cells
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