Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Biotechnology and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Selective delivery of interleukine-1 receptor antagonist to inflamed joint by albumin fusion

Mengyuan Liu1*, Yi Huang1, Lei Hu13, Guoping Liu2, Xueping Hu1, Dongxu Liu1 and Xiaosong Yang1

Author affiliations

1 Center for Infection and Immunity Research, School of Life Sciences, Hubei University, Youyi Road 368, Wuhan, 430062, China

2 College of Animal Sciences, Yangtze University, Jingmi road 88-2, Jingzhou, 434025, China

3 The Institute of Medicinal Technology, Peking Union Medical College and Chinese Academy of Medical Science, Beijing, 10050, China

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Biotechnology 2012, 12:68  doi:10.1186/1472-6750-12-68

Published: 25 September 2012



Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist, a cytokine that is highly therapeutic to rheumatoid arthritis and several other inflammatory diseases, exhibits rapid blood clearance and poor retention time on the target in clinical application due to its small size and lack of specificity to target tissue. Albumin has been widely employed as macromolecular carrier for drug delivery purpose to extend the plasma half-life of therapeutic molecules and has been shown to selectively accumulate and to be metabolized in the inflamed joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. This suggests that genetic fusion of IL-1ra to albumin can probably overcome the drawbacks of in vivo application of IL-1ra.


A recombinant protein, engineered by fusing human serum albumin (HSA) to the carboxyl terminal of IL-1ra, was produced in Pichia pastoris and purified to homogeneity. The fusion protein retained the antagonist activity of IL-1ra and had a plasma half-life of approximately 30-fold more than that of IL-1ra in healthy mice. In vivo bio-distribution studies demonstrated that the fusion protein selectively accumulated in arthritic paws for a long period of time in mice with collagen-induced arthritis, showing low uptake rates in normal organs such as liver, kidney, spleen and lung in contrast to IL-1ra alone. Moreover, this fusion protein was able to significantly improve the therapeutic efficacy of IL-1ra in collagen-induced arthritis mouse model.


The fusion protein described here, able to selectively deliver IL-1ra to inflamed tissue, could yield important contributions for the therapy of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

Human serum albumin; Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist; Fusion protein; Rheumatoid arthritis; Pharmacokinetics; Pharmacodynamic