Combined effects of the bisphosphonate, zoledronic acid and the aromatase inhibitor letrozole on breast cancer cells in vitro: evidence of synergistic interaction.
ABSTRACT: Aromatase inhibitors are widely used in the treatment of oestrogen receptor-positive post-menopausal breast cancer. These patients may also be receiving the bisphosphonate, zoledronic acid (ZA) to prevent bone loss or reduce skeletal morbidity in the setting of advanced disease. The potential biological interaction of these two drugs in breast cancer has not been assessed.Aromatase-expressing breast cancer cells were treated with letrozole and ZA either simultaneously or in sequence, and the resulting apoptosis was assessed by staining with Hoechst 33342 and propidium iodide and examined using a fluorescent inverted Leica DMIRB microscope and a UV filter.We found that letrozole and ZA induce levels of apoptosis in breast cancer cells in vitro that are significantly greater compared with treatment with each drug alone. However, this potentially, synergistic relationship is drug-sequence dependent, occurring only when cells are treated with letrozole, followed by ZA. The converse sequence, or administering drugs simultaneously, induces levels of apoptosis no greater than each drug alone.Owing to the enhanced anti-tumour efficacy of sequential drug administration, our findings may indicate that, for post-menopausal women who require treatment with letrozole, ZA should also be considered.
Project description:Zoledronic acid (ZA) has antiresorptive effects and protects from bone metastasis in women with early breast cancer. In addition, in postmenopausal women with endocrine responsive breast cancer ZA prolongs DFS. The exact mechanism is still unclear. We have therefore investigated the effect of increasing concentrations of ZA in breast cancer cell lines in the absence or presence of estradiol to mimic the hormonal environment in vitro.Using assays for cell proliferation (EZ4U, BrdU) and cell death (Annexin/PI), we have analyzed the dose-dependent antiproliferative and pro-apoptotic effects of ZA in two hormone sensitive cell lines (MCF-7 and T47D) and a hormone insensitive, triple negative cell line (MDA-MB-231) in the presence of 0, 1 and 10 nM estradiol.In the absence of estradiol, ZA exerts dose-dependent antiproliferative and pro-apoptotic antitumor effects in both, hormone sensitive (MCF-7, T47D) and -insensitive (MDA-MB-231) breast cancer cell lines (p<0.0001). In the presence of estradiol, the antitumoral effect of ZA was significantly decreased only in the hormone sensitive MCF-7 and T47D cell lines (p = 0.0008 and p = 0.0008, respectively).We have demonstrated that estradiol impairs the antiproliferative and proapoptotic effect of ZA in hormone sensitive, but not in hormone insensitive breast cancer cell lines. Our findings provide a possible explanation for the differential effect of ZA on DFS in pre- and postmenopausal patients with hormone sensitive early breast cancer, which has been demonstrated clinically. We further hypothesize that endocrine insensitive tumors such as triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) should benefit from ZA irrespective of their menopausal status.
Project description:Tamoxifen has been a standard first-line endocrine therapy for post-menopausal women with hormone-responsive advanced breast cancer, but more than half of patients fail to respond and time to progression is less than 12 months in responders. The third-generation aromatase inhibitors were developed to provide more effective alternatives to tamoxifen. In the Femara Study PO25, post-menopausal women with advanced breast cancer were randomized to receive letrozole 2.5 mg (n=453) or tamoxifen 20 mg (n=454) given orally daily until progressive disease occurred. Patients were permitted to cross over to the other treatment at progression. In the primary efficacy analysis, median time to progression (TTP) was significantly longer with letrozole than with tamoxifen (9.4 months vs. 6.0 months, respectively; P<0.0001). The objective response rate (ORR) was significantly higher for letrozole than for tamoxifen (32% vs. 21%; P=0.0002). Prospectively planned analyses of the intent-to-treat population showed that letrozole significantly improved overall survival (OS) compared with tamoxifen over the first 24 months of the trial. An exploratory analysis of patients, who did not cross over, indicated a median OS benefit of 14 months for letrozole compared with tamoxifen. Letrozole is the only third-generation aromatase inhibitor that has demonstrated significant improvements in ORR, TTP, and early OS.
Project description:PURPOSE:The aromatase inhibitors (AI) exemestane (EXE), letrozole (LET), and anastrozole suppress estrogen biosynthesis, and are effective treatments for estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer. Prior work suggests that anastrozole blood concentrations are associated with the magnitude of estrogen suppression. The objective of this study was to determine whether the magnitude of estrogen suppression, as determined by plasma estradiol (E2) concentrations, in EXE or LET treated patients is associated with plasma AI concentrations. METHODS:Five hundred post-menopausal women with ER-positive breast cancer were enrolled in the prospective Exemestane and Letrozole Pharmacogenetic (ELPh) Study conducted by the COnsortium on BReast cancer phArmacogomics (COBRA) and randomly assigned to either drug. Estrogen concentrations were measured at baseline and after 3 months of AI treatment and drug concentrations were measured after 1 or 3 months. EXE or LET concentrations were compared with 3-month E2 concentration or the change from baseline to 3 months using several complementary statistical procedures. RESULTS:Four-hundred patients with on-treatment E2 and AI concentrations were evaluable (EXE n = 200, LET n = 200). Thirty (7.6%) patients (EXE n = 13, LET n = 17) had 3-month E2 concentrations above the lower limit of quantification (LLOQ) (median: 4.75; range: 1.42-63.8 pg/mL). EXE and LET concentrations were not associated with on-treatment E2 concentrations or changes in E2 concentrations from baseline (all p > 0.05). CONCLUSIONS:Steady-state plasma AI concentrations do not explain variability in E2 suppression in post-menopausal women receiving EXE or LET therapy, in contrast with prior evidence in anastrozole treated patients.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Zoledronic acid (ZA), a nitrogen-containing bisphosphonate, inhibits osteoclastogenesis. Emerging evidence suggests that ZA has anti-tumor and anti-metastatic properties for breast cancer cells. In a mouse model of ZA-related osteonecrosis of the jaw, ZA administration was found to suppress regulatory T-cells (Tregs) function. Our previous reports also demonstrated ZA acted as an immune modulator to block Tregs. Manipulation of Tregs represents a new strategy for cancer treatment. However, the relationship among ZA, Tregs, and cancer cells remains unclear. In this study, we investigated the effects of ZA on the interaction of breast cancer cells and Tregs. METHODS:The anti-tumor effect of ZA on triple negative breast cancer cell lines were validated by XTT, wound healing and apoptosis analysis. A flow cytometry-based assay was used to analyze the immunosuppressive effect of Tregs treated with media conditioned by breast cancer cells, and a transwell assay was used to evaluate the chemotactic migration of Tregs. Differential gene expression profile on MDA-MB-231 treated with ZA (25 μM) was analyzed by. microarrays to describe the molecular basis of actions of ZA for possible direct anti-tumor effects. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and quantitative real-time PCR were used to investigate the effect of ZA on the expression of cytokines/factors by breast cancer cells. RESULTS:ZA was found to inhibit the proliferation and migration of breast cancer cells. Media conditioned by the MDA-MB-231 cells promoted the expansion, chemotactic migration, and immunosuppressive activity of Tregs, and these effects were attenuated in a dose-dependent manner by ZA treatment, and the attenuation was due to reduced expression of selected breast cancer cell factors (CCL2, CCL5, and IDO). CONCLUSIONS:ZA can significantly affect the interaction between breast cancer cells and Tregs. Our findings indicate that ZA is a potential therapeutic agent that can be used to reduce cancer aggressiveness by abolishing the supportive role of Tregs.
Project description:Biopsies were collected from post-menopausal women with ER+ HER2- breast cancer who were subsequently treated with either letrozole or letrozole plus bevacizumab. Overall design: In one arm of the trial, the women received letrozole. In the other arm they received letrozole plus bevacizumab. Clinical responses were collected . Small RNA-seq was performed on biopsy isolated RNA and the abundances correlated to clinical outcomes. A classifier model for response to the combination therapy was derived. Patient outcome definitions: CR_DS = Complete Response and Down Staged DS = Down Staged PD = Progressed Disease PR = Partial Response PR_DS = Partial Response and Down Staged SD = Stable Disease
Project description:Background:KW-2450 is an oral dual insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor/insulin receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor. We investigated the in vitro and in vivo preclinical activity of KW-2450 plus lapatinib and letrozole and conducted a phase I trial of the triple-drug combination in one male and 10 postmenopausal female patients with advanced/metastatic hormone receptor-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive breast cancer. Methods:A series of in vitro and in vivo animal studies was undertaken of KW-2450 in combination with lapatinib and hormonal agents. The phase I trial was conducted to establish the safety, tolerability, and recommended phase II dose (RP2D) of KW-2450 administered in combination with lapatinib and letrozole. Results:Preclinical studies showed KW-2450 and lapatinib act synergistically to induce in vitro apoptosis and inhibit growth of HER2-positive MDA-MB-361 and BT-474 breast cancer cell lines. This combined effect was confirmed in vivo using the MDA-MB-361 xenograft model. KW-2450 showed synergistic in vitro growth inhibition with letrozole and 4-hydroxytamoxifen in ER-positive MCF-7 breast cancer cells and MCF-7-Ac1 aromatase-transfected MCF-7 cells. In the phase I study, dose-limiting toxicity (DLT; grade 3 rash and grade 3 hyperglycemia, respectively) occurred in two of three patients at the dose of KW-2450 25 mg/day plus lapatinib 1500 mg/day and letrozole 2.5 mg/day. The RP2D of the triple-drug combination was established as KW-2450 25 mg/day, lapatinib 1250 mg/day, and letrozole 2.5 mg/day with no DLT at this dose level. Conclusions:The proposed phase II study of the RP2D for the triple-drug combination did not progress because of anticipated difficulty in patient enrollment and further clinical development of KW-2450 was terminated.
Project description:INTRODUCTION: Endocrine-dependent, estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cells proliferate in response to estrogens, synthesized by the cytochrome p450 aromatase enzyme. Letrozole is a potent nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitor that is registered for the treatment of postmenopausal women with advanced metastatic breast cancers and in the neoadjuvant, early, and extended adjuvant indications. Because crosstalk exists between estrogen receptor and insulin-like growth factor I receptor (IGF-IR), the effect of combining a selective IGF-IR inhibitor (NVP-AEW541) with letrozole was assessed in two independent in vitro models of estrogen-dependent breast cancer. METHODS: MCF7 and T47D cells stably expressing aromatase (MCF7/Aro and T47D/Aro) were used as in vitro models of aromatase-driven breast cancer. The role of the IGF-IR pathway in breast cancer cells stimulated only by 17beta-estradiol or androstenedione was assessed by proliferation assays. The combination of letrozole and NVP-AEW541 was assessed for synergy in inhibiting cell proliferation using Chou-Talalay derived equations. Finally, combination or single agent effects on proliferation and apoptosis were assessed using proliferation assays, flow cytometry, and immunoblotting. RESULTS: Both MCF7 and T47D cells, as well as MCF7/Aro and T47D/Aro, exhibited sensitivity to inhibition of 17beta-estradiol dependent proliferation by NVP-AEW541. Letrozole combined with NVP-AEW541 synergistically inhibited androstenedione-dependent proliferation in aromatase-expressing cells with combination index values of 0.6 or less. Synergistic combination effects correlated with higher levels of apoptosis as compared with cells treated with the single agent alone. Treatment with either agent also appeared to inhibit IGF-IR signalling via phosphoinositide 3-kinase. Notably, IGF-IR inhibition had limited effect on estrogen-dependent proliferation in the cell lines, but was clearly required for survival, suggesting that the combination of letrozole and IGF-IR inhibition sensitizes cells to apoptosis. CONCLUSION: Inhibition of the IGF-IR pathway and aromatase was synergistic in two independent estrogen-dependent in vitro models of breast cancer. Moreover, synergism of NVP-AEW541 and letrozole correlated with induction of apoptosis, but not cell cycle arrest, in the cell lines tested. Combination of IGF-IR inhibitors and letrozole may hold promise for the treatment of patients with estrogen-dependent breast cancers.
Project description:Letrozole is a commonly used treatment option for metastatic hormone receptor-positive (HR+) breast cancer, but many patients ultimately relapse. Due to the importance of phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3K) in breast cancer, PI3K inhibitors such as taselisib are attractive for combination with endocrine therapies such as letrozole. Taselisib was evaluated as a single agent and in combination with letrozole in a breast cancer cell line engineered to express aromatase. The combination of taselisib and letrozole decreased cellular viability and increased apoptosis relative to either single agent. Signaling cross-talk between the PI3K and ER pathways was associated with efficacy for the combination. In a secreted factor screen, multiple soluble factors, including members of the epidermal and fibroblast growth factor families, rendered breast cancer cells non-responsive to letrozole. It was discovered that many of these factors signal through the PI3K pathway and cells remained sensitive to taselisib in the presence of the soluble factors. We also found that letrozole resistant lines have elevated PI3K pathway signaling due to an increased level of p110?, but are still sensitive to taselisib. These data provide rationale for clinical evaluation of PI3K inhibitors to overcome resistance to endocrine therapies in ER+ breast cancer.
Project description:The mTORC1 inhibitor RAD001 (everolimus) is approved for treatment of recurrent/metastatic estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer in combination with the aromatase inhibitor (AI) exemestane. The benefits of A) continued anti-estrogen therapy for anti-estrogen-resistant disease in the context of mTORC1 inhibition, and B) adjuvant everolimus in combination with anti-estrogen therapy for early-stage disease are being tested clinically, but molecular rationale remains unclear. We hypothesized that mTORC1 inhibition activates the IGF-1R/InsR/IRS-1/2 axis in an ER-dependent manner to drive PI3K/AKT and promote cancer cell survival, implicating ER in survival signaling induced by mTORC1 inhibition. Anti-estrogen treatment synergized with RAD001 to inhibit ER+ breast cancer cell growth. Inhibition of ER, IGF-1R/InsR, or IRS-1/2 suppressed AKT activation induced by mTORC1 inhibition. RAD001 primed IGF-1R/InsR for activation, which was enhanced by ER signaling. Post-menopausal patients with early-stage ER+ breast cancer were treated presurgically +/- the AI letrozole. Viable tumor fragments from surgical specimens were treated with RAD001 and/or OSI-906 ex vivo; RAD001 increased AKT activation, which was abrogated by presurgical letrozole. Letrozole decreased IGF-1R and IRS-1/2 tumor levels. These data suggest that ER drives PI3K/AKT activation in response to mTORC1 inhibition, providing molecular rationale for therapeutic combinations of anti-estrogens and mTORC1 inhibitors in endocrine-sensitive disease.
Project description:The majority of breast cancers are estrogen receptor positive (ER+). Blockade of estrogen biosynthesis by aromatase inhibitors (AIs) is the first-line endocrine therapy for post-menopausal women with ER+ breast cancers. However, AI resistance remains a major challenge. We have demonstrated previously that increased GDNF/RET signaling in ER+ breast cancers promotes AI resistance. Here we investigated the efficacy of different small molecule RET kinase inhibitors, sunitinib, cabozantinib, NVP-BBT594 and NVP-AST487, and the potential of combining a RET inhibitor with the AI letrozole in ER+ breast cancers. The most effective inhibitor identified, NVP-AST487, suppressed GDNF-stimulated RET downstream signaling and 3D tumor spheroid growth. Ovariectomized mice were inoculated with ER+ aromatase-overexpressing MCF7-AROM1 cells and treated with letrozole, NVP-AST487 or the two drugs in combination. Surprisingly, the three treatment regimens showed similar efficacy in impairing MCF7-AROM1 tumor growth in vivo. However in vitro, NVP-AST487 was superior to letrozole in inhibiting the GDNF-induced motility and tumor spheroid growth of MCF7-AROM1 cells and required in combination with letrozole to inhibit GDNF-induced motility in BT474-AROM3 aromatase expressing cells. These data indicate that inhibiting RET is as effective as the current therapeutic regimen of AI therapy but that a combination treatment may delay cancer cell dissemination and metastasis.