Gouty arthritis is caused by the deposition of monosodium urate (MSU) crystals in joints. Despite many treatment options for gout, there is a substantial need for alternative treatments for patients unresponsive to current therapies. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors have demonstrated therapeutic benefit in experimental models of antibody-dependent arthritis and in rheumatoid arthritis in humans, but to date, the potential effects of such inhibitors on gouty arthritis has not been evaluated. Here we demonstrate that treatment with the tyrosine kinase inhibitor imatinib mesylate (imatinib) can suppress inflammation induced by injection of MSU crystals into subcutaneous air pouches or into the ankle joint of wild type mice. Moreover, imatinib treatment also largely abolished the lower levels of inflammation which developed in IL-1R1-/- or KitW-sh/W-sh mice, indicating that this drug can inhibit IL-1-independent pathways, as well as mast cell-independent pathways, contributing to pathology in this model. Imatinib treatment not only prevented ankle swelling and synovial inflammation when administered before MSU crystals but also diminished these features when administrated after the injection of MSU crystals, a therapeutic protocol more closely mimicking the clinical situation in which treatment occurs after the development of an acute gout flare. Finally, we also assessed the efficiency of local intra-articular injections of imatinib-loaded poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) nanoparticles in this model of acute gout. Treatment with low doses of this long-acting imatinib:PLGA formulation was able to reduce ankle swelling in a therapeutic protocol. Altogether, these results raise the possibility that tyrosine kinase inhibitors might have utility in the treatment of acute gout in humans.
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