Research ArticleDrug Discovery

Effect of selective LRRK2 kinase inhibition on nonhuman primate lung

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Translational Medicine  04 Feb 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 273, pp. 273ra15
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaa3634

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

A lung phenotype for LRRK2 inhibitors

Human genetic evidence implicates leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) as a high-priority drug target for Parkinson’s disease. However, the benefit and risk of inhibiting the kinase activity of LRRK2 is unknown and is currently untested in humans. Using two selective LRRK2 kinase inhibitors, Fuji et al. report a safety liability in nonhuman primates characterized by morphological changes in lung. These results are consistent with observations in mice lacking LRRK2. These safety observations offer a cautionary note for pharmacological modulation of LRRK2 in humans.


Inhibition of the kinase activity of leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) is under investigation as a possible treatment for Parkinson’s disease. However, there is no clinical validation as yet, and the safety implications of targeting LRRK2 kinase activity are not well understood. We evaluated the potential safety risks by comparing human and mouse LRRK2 mRNA tissue expression, by analyzing a Lrrk2 knockout mouse model, and by testing selective brain-penetrating LRRK2 kinase inhibitors in multiple species. LRRK2 mRNA tissue expression was comparable between species. Phenotypic analysis of Lrrk2 knockout mice revealed morphologic changes in lungs and kidneys, similar to those reported previously. However, in preclinical toxicity assessments in rodents, no pulmonary or renal changes were induced by two distinct LRRK2 kinase inhibitors. Both of these kinase inhibitors induced abnormal cytoplasmic accumulation of secretory lysosome-related organelles known as lamellar bodies in type II pneumocytes of the lung in nonhuman primates, but no lysosomal abnormality was observed in the kidney. The pulmonary change resembled the phenotype of Lrrk2 knockout mice, suggesting that this was LRRK2-mediated rather than a nonspecific or off-target effect. A biomarker of lysosomal dysregulation, di-docosahexaenoyl (22:6) bis(monoacylglycerol) phosphate (di-22:6-BMP), was also decreased in the urine of Lrrk2 knockout mice and nonhuman primates treated with LRRK2 kinase inhibitors. Our results suggest a role for LRRK2 in regulating lysosome-related lamellar bodies and that pulmonary toxicity may be a critical safety liability for LRRK2 kinase inhibitors in patients.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Translational Medicine