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N-glycans of complex glycosylated biopharmaceuticals and their impact on protein clearance

European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics
June 28, 2019

N-glycosylation is a common post-translational modification of biopharmaceutical products. Certain types of N-glycans have been shown to influence important properties of monoclonal antibody products including pharmacokinetics and effector functions. Complex biopharmaceuticals e.g. Fc fusion proteins may contain several N- and O-glycosylation sites. Domain specific characterization of two Fc fusion proteins showed an Fc N-glycosylation pattern comparable to IgG molecules. The receptor N-glycosylation was found to contain some larger and more complex N-glycans compared to the Fc part. Analyses of samples from non-clinical studies of the two studied fusion proteins indicate that their N-glycans impact pharmacokinetic properties. Interestingly, besides the type of N-glycan this influence on the pharmacokinetics depends also on the glycosylation site and thus the accessibility on the protein. The same type of N-glycan can influence the clearance of fusion proteins when located at the receptor part, but not if located at the Fc part. In this study, it is shown that N-glycans with terminal galactose or N-acetylglucosamine residues have a negative impact on serum half-life when located at the receptor part. Terminal sialylation of galactose residues prevents this faster clearance even when only one sialic acid is present. O-acetylation, a modification of sialic acids does not impact pharmacokinetics. Thus, type and accessibility of N-glycan moieties of fusion proteins both play an important role in pharmacokinetics. Finally, detailed site specific analysis is critical in the development of biopharmaceuticals.