Rescue of rhesus macaques from the lethality of aerosolized ricin toxin

Chad J. Roy, Dylan J. Ehrbar, Natasha Bohorova, Ognian Bohorov, Do Kim, Michael Pauly, Kevin Whaley, Yinghui Rong, Fernando J. Torres-Velez, Ellen S. Vitetta, Peter J. Didier, Lara Doyle-Meyers, Larry Zeitlin, Nicholas J. Mantis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Ricin toxin (RT) ranks at the top of the list of bioweapons of concern to civilian and military personnel alike, due to its high potential for morbidity and mortality after inhalation. In nonhuman primates, aerosolized ricin triggers severe acute respiratory distress characterized by perivascular and alveolar edema, neutrophilic infiltration, and severe necrotizing bronchiolitis and alveolitis. There are currently no approved countermeasures for ricin intoxication. Here, we report the therapeutic potential of a humanized mAb against an immunodominant epitope on ricin’s enzymatic A chain (RTA). Rhesus macaques that received i.v. huPB10 4 hours after a lethal dose of ricin aerosol exposure survived toxin challenge, whereas control animals succumbed to ricin intoxication within 30 hours. Antibody intervention at 12 hours resulted in the survival of 1 of 5 monkeys. Changes in proinflammatory cytokine, chemokine, and growth factor profiles in bronchial alveolar lavage fluids before and after toxin challenge successfully clustered animals by treatment group and survival, indicating a relationship between local tissue damage and experimental outcome. This study represents the first demonstration, to our knowledge, in nonhuman primates that the lethal effects of inhalational ricin exposure can be negated by a drug candidate, and it opens up a path forward for product development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere124771
JournalJCI Insight
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 10 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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