OBJECTIVES: Nerve growth factor (NGF) has emerged as a key driver of pain in osteoarthritis (OA) and antibodies to NGF are potent analgesics in human disease. Here, we validate a novel vaccine strategy to generate anti-NGF antibodies for reversal of pain behaviour in a surgical model of OA. METHODS: Virus-like particles were derived from the cucumber mosaic virus (CuMV) and coupled to expressed recombinant NGF to create the vaccine. 10-week-old male mice underwent partial meniscectomy to induce OA or sham-surgery. Spontaneous pain behaviour was measured by Linton incapacitance and OA severity was quantified using OARSI histological scoring. Mice (experimental and a sentinel cohort) were inoculated with CuMVttNGF (Vax) or CuMVttctrl (Mock) either before surgery or once pain was established. Efficacy of anti-NGF from the plasma of sentinel vaccinated mice was measured in vitro using a neurite outgrowth assay in PC12 cells. RESULTS: Anti-NGF titres were readily detectable in the vaccinated but not mock vaccinated mice. Regular boosting with fresh vaccine was required to maintain anti-NGF titres as measured in the sentinel cohort. Both prophylactic and therapeutic vaccination demonstrated a reversal of pain behaviour by incapacitance testing, and a meta-analysis of the two studies showing analgesia at peak anti-NGF titres was highly statistically significant. Serum anti-NGF was able to inhibit neurite outgrowth equivalent to around 150 ug/mL of recombinant monoclonal antibody. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates therapeutic efficacy of a novel NGF vaccine strategy that reversibly alleviates spontaneous pain behaviour in surgically induced murine OA.
Ann Rheum Dis
chronic pain, immunization, nerve growth factor, osteoarthritis, vaccine