Highly Viscous Antibody Solutions Are a Consequence of Network Formation Caused by Domain-Domain Electrostatic Complementarities: Insights from Coarse-Grained Simulations

PM Buck and A Chaudhri and S Kumar and SK Singh, MOLECULAR PHARMACEUTICS, 12, 127-139 (2015).

DOI: 10.1021/mp500485w

Therapeutic monoclonal antibody (mAb) candidates that form highly viscous solutions at concentrations above 100 mg/mL can lead to challenges in bioprocessing, formulation development, and subcutaneous drug delivery. Earlier studies of mAbs with concentration-dependent high viscosity have indicated that mAbs with negatively charged Fv regions have a dipole-like quality that increases the likelihood of reversible self-association. This suggests that weak electrostatic intermolecular interactions can form transient antibody networks that participate in resistance to solution deformation under shear stress. Here this hypothesis is explored by parametrizing a coarse-grained (CG) model of an antibody using the domain charges from four different mAbs that have had their concentration-dependent viscosity behaviors previously determined. Multicopy molecular dynamics simulations were performed for these four CG mAbs at several concentrations to understand the effect of surface charge on mass diffusivity, pairwise interactions, and electrostatic network formation. Diffusion coefficients computed from simulations were in qualitative agreement with experimentally determined viscosities for all four mAbs. Contact analysis revealed an overall greater number of pairwise interactions for the two mAbs in this study with high concentration viscosity issues. Further, using equilibrated solution trajectories, the two mAbs with high concentration viscosity issues quantitatively formed more features of an electrostatic network than the other mAbs. The change in the number of these network features as a function of concentration is related to the number of pairwise interactions formed by electrostatic complementarities between antibody domains. Thus, transient antibody network formation caused by domain- domain electrostatic complementarities is the most probable origin of high concentration viscosity for mAbs in this study.

Return to Publications page