Epigenetic reprogramming reverses the relapse-specific gene expression signature and restores chemosensitivity in childhood B-lymphoblastic leukemia.
ABSTRACT: Whereas the improvement in outcome for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia has been gratifying, the poor outcome of patients who relapse warrants novel treatment approaches. Previously, we identified a characteristic relapse-specific gene expression and methylation signature associated with chemoresistance using a large cohort of matched-diagnosis relapse samples. We hypothesized that "reversing" such a signature might restore chemosensitivity. In the present study, we demonstrate that the histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat not only reprograms the aberrant gene expression profile of relapsed blasts by epigenetic mechanisms, but is also synergistic when applied before chemotherapy in primary patient samples and leukemia cell lines. Furthermore, incorporation of the DNA methyltransferase inhibitor decitabine led to reexpression of genes shown to be preferentially methylated and silenced at relapse. Combination pretreatment with vorinostat and decitabine resulted in even greater cytotoxicity compared with each agent individually with chemotherapy. Our results indicate that acquisition of chemo-resistance at relapse may be driven in part by epigenetic mechanisms. Incorporation of these targeted epigenetic agents to the standard chemotherapy backbone is a promising approach to the treatment of relapsed pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Project description:DNA hypermethylation and histone deacetylation are pathways of leukemia resistance. We investigated the tolerability and efficacy of decitabine and vorinostat plus chemotherapy in relapse/refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Decitabine (15 mg/m(2) iv) and vorinostat (230 mg/m(2) PO div BID) were given days 1-4 followed by vincristine, prednisone, PEG-asparaginase, and doxorubicin. Genome wide methylation profiles were performed in 8 matched patient bone marrow (BM) samples taken at day 0 and day 5 (postdecitabine). The median age was 16 (range, 3-54) years. All patients had a prior BM relapse, with five relapsing after allogeneic transplant. The most common nonhematological toxicities possibly related to decitabine or vorinostat were infection with neutropenia (grade 3; n?=?4) and fever/neutropenia (grade 3, n?=?4; grade 4, n?=?1). Of the 13 eligible patients, four achieved complete remission without platelet recovery (CRp), two partial response (PR), one stable disease (SD), one progressive disease (PD), two deaths on study and three patients who did not have end of therapy disease evaluations for an overall response rate of 46.2% (CRp?+?PR). Following decitabine, significant genome-wide hypo-methylation was observed. Comparison of clinical responders with nonresponders identified methylation profiles of clinical and biological relevance. Decitabine and vorinostat followed by re-Induction chemotherapy was tolerable and demonstrated clinical benefit in relapsed patients with ALL. Methylation differences were identified between responders and nonresponders indicating interpatient variation, which could impact clinical outcome. This study was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00882206.
Project description:PURPOSE:Treatment failure from drug resistance is the primary reason for relapse in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Improving outcomes by targeting mechanisms of drug resistance is a potential solution. PATIENTS AND METHODS:We report results investigating the epigenetic modulators decitabine and vorinostat with vincristine, dexamethasone, mitoxantrone, and PEG-asparaginase for pediatric patients with relapsed or refractory B-cell ALL (B-ALL). Twenty-three patients, median age 12 years (range, 1-21) were treated in this trial. RESULTS:The most common grade 3-4 toxicities included hypokalemia (65%), anemia (78%), febrile neutropenia (57%), hypophosphatemia (43%), leukopenia (61%), hyperbilirubinemia (39%), thrombocytopenia (87%), neutropenia (91%), and hypocalcemia (39%). Three subjects experienced dose-limiting toxicities, which included cholestasis, steatosis, and hyperbilirubinemia (n = 1); seizure, somnolence, and delirium (n = 1); and pneumonitis, hypoxia, and hyperbilirubinemia (n = 1). Infectious complications were common with 17 of 23 (74%) subjects experiencing grade ?3 infections including invasive fungal infections in 35% (8/23). Nine subjects (39%) achieved a complete response (CR + CR without platelet recovery + CR without neutrophil recovery) and five had stable disease (22%). Nine (39%) subjects were not evaluable for response, primarily due to treatment-related toxicities. Correlative pharmacodynamics demonstrated potent in vivo modulation of epigenetic marks, and modulation of biologic pathways associated with functional antileukemic effects. CONCLUSIONS:Despite encouraging response rates and pharmacodynamics, the combination of decitabine and vorinostat on this intensive chemotherapy backbone was determined not feasible in B-ALL due to the high incidence of significant infectious toxicities. This study is registered at http://www.clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01483690.
Project description:KMT2A partial tandem duplication occurs in approximately 5-10% of patients with acute myeloid leukemia and is associated with adverse prognosis. KMT2A wild type is epigenetically silenced in KMT2A partial tandem duplication; re-expression can be induced with DNA methyltransferase and/or histone deacetylase inhibitors in vitro, sensitizing myeloid blasts to chemotherapy. We hypothesized that epigenetic silencing of KMT2A wildtype contributes to KMT2A partial tandem duplication-associated leukemogenesis and pharmacologic re-expression activates apoptotic mechanisms important for chemoresponse. We developed a regimen for this unique molecular subset, but due to relatively low frequency of KMT2A partial tandem duplication, this dose finding study was conducted in relapsed/refractory disease regardless of molecular subtype. Seventeen adults (< age 60) with relapsed/refractory acute myeloid leukemia were treated on study. Patients received decitabine 20 milligrams/meter2 daily on days 1-10 and vorinostat 400 milligrams daily on days 5-10. Cytarabine was dose-escalated from 1.5 grams/meter2 every 12 hours to 3 grams/meter2 every 12 hours on days 12, 14 and 16. Two patients experienced dose limiting toxicities at dose level 1 due to prolonged myelosuppression. However, as both patients achieved complete remission after Day 42, the protocol was amended to adjust the definition of hematologic dose limiting toxicity. No further dose limiting toxicities were found. Six of 17 patients achieved complete remission including 2 of 4 patients with KMT2A partial tandem duplication. Combination therapy with decitabine, vorinostat and cytarabine was tolerated in younger relapsed/refractory acute myeloid leukemia and should be explored further focusing on the KMT2A partial tandem duplication subset. (clinicaltrials.gov identifier 01130506).
Project description:Relapsed precursor T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia is characterized by resistance against chemotherapy and is frequently fatal. We aimed at understanding the molecular mechanisms resulting in relapse of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and analyzed 13 patients at first diagnosis, remission and relapse by whole exome sequencing, targeted ultra-deep sequencing, multiplex ligation dependent probe amplification and DNA methylation array. Compared to primary T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, in relapse the number of single nucleotide variants and small insertions and deletions approximately doubled from 11.5 to 26. Targeted ultra-deep sequencing sensitively detected subclones that were selected for in relapse. The mutational pattern defined two types of relapses. While both are characterized by selection of subclones and acquisition of novel mutations, 'type 1' relapse derives from the primary leukemia whereas 'type 2' relapse originates from a common pre-leukemic ancestor. Relapse-specific changes included activation of the nucleotidase NT5C2 resulting in resistance to chemotherapy and mutations of epigenetic modulators, exemplified by SUZ12, WHSC1 and SMARCA4. While mutations present in primary leukemia and in relapse were enriched for known drivers of leukemia, relapse-specific changes revealed an association with general cancer-promoting mechanisms. This study thus identifies mechanisms that drive progression of pediatric T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia to relapse and may explain the characteristic treatment resistance of this condition.
Project description:Despite advancements in cancer therapeutics, acute myeloid leukemia patients over 60 years old have a 5-year survival rate of less than 8%. In an attempt to improve this, epigenetic modifying agents have been combined as therapies in clinical studies. In particular combinations with Decitabine and Vorinostat have had varying degrees of efficacy. This study therefore aimed to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms of these agents to identify potential rational epi-sensitized combinations. Combined Decitabine-Vorinostat treatment synergistically decreased cell proliferation, induced apoptosis, enhanced acetylation of histones and further decreased DNMT1 protein with HL-60 cells showing a greater sensitivity to the combined treatment than OCI-AML3. Combination therapy led to reprogramming of unique target genes including AXL, a receptor tyrosine kinase associated with cell survival and a poor prognosis in AML, which was significantly upregulated following treatment. Therefore targeting AXL following epi-sensitization with Decitabine and Vorinostat may be a suitable triple combination. To test this, cells were treated with a novel triple combination therapy including BGB324, an AXL specific inhibitor. Triple combination increased the sensitivity of OCI-AML3 cells to Decitabine and Vorinostat as shown through viability assays and significantly extended the survival of mice transplanted with pretreated OCI-AML3 cells, while bioluminescence imaging showed the decrease in disease burden following triple combination treatment. Further investigation is required to optimize this triple combination, however, these results suggest that AXL is a potential marker of response to Decitabine-Vorinostat combination treatment and offers a new avenue of epigenetic combination therapies for acute myeloid leukemia.
Project description:Although steady improvements to chemotherapeutic treatments has helped cure 80% of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cases, chemotherapy has proven to be less effective in treating the majority of adult patients, leaving allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) as the primary adult treatment option. Nevertheless relapse are the leading cause of death following allo-HSCT. The genetic pathogenesis of relapse following allo-HSCT in Philadelphia chromosome- negative ALL (Ph- ALL) remains unexplored. We performed longitudinal whole-exome sequencing analysis in three adult patients with Ph- B-cell ALL (Ph- B-ALL) on samples collected from diagnosis to relapse after allo-HSCT. Based on these data, we performed target gene sequencing on 23 selected genes in 58 adult patients undergoing allo-HSCT with Ph- B-ALL. Our results revealed a significant enrichment of mutations in epigenetic regulators from relapsed samples, with recurrent somatic mutations in SETD2, CREBBP, KDM6A and NR3C1. The relapsed samples were also enriched in signaling factor mutations, including KRAS, PTPN21, MYC and USP54. Furthermore, we are the first to reveal the clonal evolution patterns during leukemia relapse after allo-HSCT. Cells present in relapsed specimens were genetically related to the diagnosed tumor, these cells therefore arose from either an existing subclone that was not eradicated by allo-HSCT therapy, or from the same progenitor that acquired new mutations. In some cases, however, it is possible that leukemia recurrence following allo-HSCT could result from a secondary malignancy with a distinct set of mutations. We identified novel genetic causes of leukemia relapse after allo-HSCT using the largest generated data set to date from adult patients with Ph- B-ALL.
Project description:The improvement in outcomes for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is one of the greatest success stories of modern oncology however the prognosis for patients who relapse remains dismal. Recent discoveries by high resolution genomic technologies have characterized the biology of relapsed leukemia, most notably pathways leading to the drug resistant phenotype. These observations open the possibility of targeting such pathways to prevent and/or treat relapse. Likewise, early experiences with new immunotherapeutic approaches have shown great promise. Areas covered: We performed a literature search on PubMed and recent meeting abstracts using the keywords below. We focused on the biology and clonal evolution of relapsed disease highlighting potential new targets of therapy. We further summarized the results of early trials of the three most prominent immunotherapy agents currently under investigation. Expert commentary: Discovery of targetable pathways that lead to drug resistance and recent breakthroughs in immunotherapy show great promise towards treating this aggressive disease. The best way to treat relapse, however, is to prevent it which makes incorporation of these new approaches into frontline therapy the best approach. Challenges remain to balance efficacy with toxicity and to prevent the emergence of resistant subclones which is why combining these newer agents with conventional chemotherapy will likely become standard of care.
Project description:Decitabine (5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine) is a DNA methyltransferase inhibitor and an archetypal epigenetic drug for the therapy of myeloid leukemias. The mode of action of decitabine strictly depends on the incorporation of the drug into DNA. However, DNA incorporation and ensuing genotoxic effects of decitabine have not yet been investigated in human cancer cell lines or in models related to the approved indication of the drug. Here we describe a robust assay for the quantitative determination of decitabine incorporation rates into DNA from human cancer cells. Using a panel of human myeloid leukemia cell lines we show appreciable amounts of decitabine incorporation that closely correlated with cellular drug uptake. Decitabine incorporation was also detectable in primary cells from myeloid leukemia patients, indicating that the assay is suitable for biomarker analyses to predict drug responses in patients. Finally, we also used next-generation sequencing to comprehensively analyze the effects of decitabine incorporation on the DNA sequence level. Interestingly, this approach failed to reveal significant changes in the rates of point mutations and genome rearrangements in myeloid leukemia cell lines. These results indicate that standard rates of decitabine incorporation are not genotoxic in myeloid leukemia cells.
Project description:The death receptor Fas and its physiological ligand (FasL) regulate apoptosis of cancerous cells, thereby functioning as a critical component of the host cancer immunosurveillance system. To evade Fas-mediated apoptosis, cancer cells often downregulate Fas to acquire an apoptosis-resistant phenotype, which is a hallmark of metastatic human colorectal cancer. Therefore, targeting Fas resistance is of critical importance in Fas-based cancer therapy and immunotherapy. In this study, we demonstrated that epigenetic inhibitors decitabine and vorinostat cooperate to upregulate Fas expression in metastatic human colon carcinoma cells. Decitabine also upregulates BNIP3 and Bik expression, whereas vorinostat decreased Bcl-x(L) expression. Altered expression of Fas, BNIP3, Bik, and Bcl-x(L) resulted in effective sensitization of the metastatic human colon carcinoma cells to FasL-induced apoptosis. Using an experimental metastasis mouse model, we further demonstrated that decitabine and vorinostat cooperate to suppress colon carcinoma metastasis. Analysis of tumor-bearing lung tissues revealed that a large portion of tumor-infiltrating CD8(+) T cells are FasL(+), and decitabine and vorinostat-mediated tumor-suppression efficacy was significantly decreased in Fas(gld) mice compared with wild-type mice, suggesting a critical role for FasL in decitabine and vorinostat-mediated tumor suppression in vivo. Consistent with their function in apoptosis sensitization, decitabine and vorinostat significantly increased the efficacy of CTL adoptive transfer immunotherapy in an experimental metastasis mouse model. Thus, our data suggest that combined modalities of chemotherapy to sensitize the tumor cell to Fas-mediated apoptosis and CTL immunotherapy is an effective approach for the suppression of colon cancer metastasis.
Project description:Establishment and maintenance of the correct epigenetic code is essential for a plethora of physiological pathways and disturbed epigenetic patterns can provoke severe consequences, e.g. tumour formation. In recent years, epigenetic drugs altering the epigenome of tumours actively have been developed for anti-cancer therapies. However, such drugs could potentially also affect other physiological pathways and systems in which intact epigenetic patterns are essential. Amongst those, male fertility is one of the most prominent. Consequently, we addressed possible direct effects of two epigenetic drugs, decitabine and vorinostat, on both, the male germ line and fertility. In addition, we checked for putative transgenerational epigenetic effects on the germ line of subsequent generations (F1-F3). Parental adult male C57Bl/6 mice were treated with either decitabine or vorinostat and analysed as well as three subsequent untreated generations derived from these males. Treatment directly affected several reproductive parameters as testis (decitabine & vorinostat) and epididymis weight, size of accessory sex glands (vorinostat), the height of the seminiferous epithelium and sperm concentration and morphology (decitabine). Furthermore, after decitabine administration, DNA methylation of a number of loci was altered in sperm. However, when analysing fertility of treated mice (fertilisation, litter size and sex ratio), no major effect of the selected epigenetic drugs on male fertility was detected. In subsequent generations (F1-F3 generations) only subtle changes on reproductive organs, sperm parameters and DNA methylation but no overall effect on fertility was observed. Consequently, in mice, decitabine and vorinostat neither affected male fertility per se nor caused marked transgenerational effects. We therefore suggest that both drugs do not induce major adverse effects-in terms of male fertility and transgenerational epigenetic inheritance-when used in anti-cancer-therapies.