Rapamycin downregulates thymidylate synthase and potentiates the activity of pemetrexed in non-small cell lung cancer.
ABSTRACT: Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for 80-85% of lung cancer cases, and almost half of newly diagnosed patients have metastatic disease. Pemetrexed is a widely used drug for NSCLC and inhibits several folate-dependent enzymes including thymidylate synthase (TS). Increased expression of TS confers resistance to pemetrexed in vitro and predicts poor response to pemetrexed. Rapamycin is an mTOR inhibitor and suppresses cap-dependent synthesis of specific mRNA species. Here, we show that the combination of rapamycin and pemetrexed synergistically inhibits proliferation of NSCLC cells. Although pemetrexed as a single agent induced TS, pretreatment with rapamycin suppressed pemetrexed-induced TS expression. In vivo, the combination of rapamycin and pemetrexed inhibited growth of NSCLC xenografts, which correlated with decreased mTOR activity and suppression of pemetrexed-induced TS expression. The ability of rapamycin to enhance the efficacy of pemetrexed and prevent TS expression has implications for the design of Phase I and/or Phase II NSCLC clinical trials with mTOR inhibitors in combination with pemetrexed.
Project description:Inhibition of thymidylate synthase (TS) results in a transient "flare" in DNA thymidine salvage pathway activity measurable with FLT ([18F]thymidine)-positron emission tomography (PET). Here we characterize this imaging strategy for potential clinical translation in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Since pemetrexed acts by inhibiting TS, we defined the kinetics of increases in thymidine salvage pathway mediated by TS inhibition following treatment with pemetrexed in vitro. Next, using a mouse model of NSCLC, we validated the kinetics of the pemetrexed-mediated "flare" in thymidine salvage pathway activity in vivo using FLT-PET imaging. Finally, we translated our findings into a proof-of-principle clinical trial of FLT-PET in a human NSCLC patient. In NSCLC cells in vitro, we identified a burst in pemetrexed-mediated thymidine salvage pathway activity, assessed by 3H-thymidine assays, thymidine kinase 1 (TK1) expression, and equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1 (ENT1) mobilization to the cell membrane, that peaked at 2hrs. This 2hr time-point was also optimal for FLT-PET imaging of pemetrexed-mediated TS inhibition in murine xenograft tumors and was demonstrated to be feasible in a NSCLC patient. FLT-PET imaging of pemetrexed-induced TS inhibition is optimal at 2hrs from therapy start; this timing is feasible in human clinical trials.
Project description:ABCG2 is a potential biomarker causing multidrug resistance (MDR) in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC). We conducted this study to investigate whether Icotinib, a small-molecule inhibitor of EGFR tyrosine kinase, could interact with ABCG2 transporter in NSCLC. Our results showed that Icotinib reversed ABCG2-mediated MDR by antagonizing the drug efflux function of ABCG2. Icotinib stimulated the ATPase activity in a concentration-dependent manner and inhibited the photolabeling of ABCG2 with [125I]-Iodoarylazidoprazosin, demonstrating that it interacts at the drug-binding pocket. Homology modeling predicted the binding conformation of Icotinib at Asn629 centroid-based grid of ABCG2. However, Icotinib at reversal concentration did not affect the expression levels of AKT and ABCG2. Furthermore, a combination of Icotinib and topotecan exhibited significant synergistic anticancer activity against NCI-H460/MX20 tumor xenografts. However, the inhibition of transport activity of ABCG2 was insufficient to overcome pemetrexed resistance in NCI-H460/MX20 cells, which was due to the co-upregulated thymidylate synthase (TS) and ABCG2 expression. This is the first report to show that the up-regulation of TS in ABCG2-overexpressing cell line NCI-H460/MX20 may play a role of resistance to pemetrexate. Our findings suggested different possible strategies of overcoming the resistance of topotecan and pemetrexed in the NSCLC patients.
Project description:In recent years, major strides in cancer research have made it possible to select personalized chemotherapy recommendations based on an individual patient's tumor biology. The prognostic and/or predictive ability of biomarkers seeks to tailor the use of targeted chemotherapy and can result in improved clinical outcomes with reduced toxicity. A proliferation of new technology and pharmacotherapeutics in the setting of current FDA Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) standards has resulted in a recent surge in direct-to-physician biomarker tests. However, in the absence of clinical validation, there is the concern that the biomarkers may be utilized prematurely, resulting in improper chemotherapy selection and patient harm. Thymidylate synthase (TS) has been marketed as a predictive biomarker for the use of pemetrexed in NSCLC. We will examine the evidence behind the use of TS as a predictive biomarker to predict response to pemetrexed in NSCLC. At this time, the evidence does not currently support using TS assays to guide chemotherapy selection outside of a clinical research protocol.
Project description:<h4>Introduction</h4>Folate receptor alpha (FRA) regulates cellular uptake of folates and antifolates. Information about FRA protein expression in metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is limited. We investigated FRA as a biomarker for pemetrexed-based chemotherapy and compared it with thymidylate synthase (TS), the main target of pemetrexed.<h4>Methods</h4>Pretreatment tumor specimens from 207 patients with advanced NSCLC were assessed for FRA and TS protein expression by immunohistochemistry using the H-score (range, 0-300) and correlated to patients' clinicopathological data, radiographic response, progression-free survival (PFS), and overall survival (OS).<h4>Results</h4>Low total (cytoplasmic and nuclear) TS protein expression (H-score < 210) was associated with improved PFS (median: 5.6 versus 3.5 months; hazard ratio [HR] = 0.6379, p = 0.0131) and prolonged OS (median: 22.5 versus 11.5 months; HR = 0.5680,p = 0.0107). An association between lower TS levels and response to pemetrexed-based therapy was found-mean H-score 187 ± 5, median 180 for responders versus mean H-score 201 ± 4, median 210, for non-responders, p = 0.0244. High intracellular FRA expression (H-score ?110) was associated with prolonged OS (28.9 versus 11.7 months, HR = 0.5316, p = 0.0040) and a trend for association with PFS (5.6 versus 4.1 months, HR = 0.7395, p = 0.0801) was noted. Membranous FRA expression was seen in 83% of patients, moreover, high membranous expression (H-score ?20) was associated with improved PFS (5.6 versus 3.7 months, HR = 0.6445, p = 0.0306) and OS (22.1 versus 11.5 months, HR = 0.5378, p = 0.0131).<h4>Conclusions</h4>A large number of NSCLC patients have high expression of FRA and/or a low level of TS expression. Expression levels of FRA and TS were associated with clinical benefit from pemetrexed therapy.
Project description:<h4>Objective</h4>To evaluate the efficacy and safety of pemetrexed, carboplatin and bevacizumab (PCB) followed by maintenance therapy with pemetrexed and bevacizumab (PB) in chemotherapy-naïve patients with stage IV non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) through the influence of thymidylate synthase (TS) protein and mRNA expression on several outcomes. The primary endpoints were the overall response rate (ORR), progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS).<h4>Methods</h4>A cohort of 144 patients were administered pemetrexed (500 mg/m2), carboplatin (AUC, 5.0 mg/ml/min) and bevacizumab (7.5 mg/kg) intravenously every three weeks for up to four cycles. Maintenance PB was administered until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.<h4>Results</h4>One hundred forty-four Colombian patients with a median follow-up of 13.8 months and a median number of 6 maintenance cycles (range, 1-32) were assessed. The ORR among the patients was 66% (95% CI, 47% to 79%). The median PFS and (OS) rates were 7.9 months (95% CI, 5.9-10.0 months) and 21.4 months (95% CI, 18.3 to 24.4 months), respectively. We documented grade 3/4 hematologic toxicities, including anemia (14%), neutropenia (8%), and thrombocytopenia (16%). The identified grade 3/4 non-hematologic toxicities were proteinuria (2%), venous thrombosis (4%), fatigue (11%), infection (6%), nephrotoxicity (2%), and sensory neuropathy (4%). No grade >3 hemorrhagic events or hypertension cases were reported. OS was significantly higher in patients with the lowest TS mRNA levels [median, 29.6 months (95% CI, 26.2-32.9)] compared with those in patients with higher levels [median, 9.3 months (95% CI, 6.6-12.0); p = 0.0001]. TS expression (mRNA levels or protein expression) did not influence the treatment response.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Overall, PCB followed by maintenance pemetrexed and bevacizumab was effective and tolerable in Hispanic patients with non-squamous NSCLC. This regimen was associated with acceptable toxicity and prolonged OS, particularly in patients with low TS expression. We found a role for Ki67 and TS expression as prognostic factors.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Pemetrexed, a multi-target folate antagonist, has demonstrated efficacy in NSCLC histological subtypes characterized by low thymidylate synthase (TS) expression. Among many other potential targets, histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) modulate TS expression, potentially sensitizing to the cytotoxic action of anti-cancer drugs that target the folate pathway, such as pemetrexed. Since high levels of TS have been linked to clinical resistance to pemetrexed in NSCLC, herein we investigated the molecular and functional effects of combined pemetrexed and ITF2357, a pan-HDACi currently in clinical trials as an anti-cancer agent.<h4>Results</h4>In NSCLC cell lines, HDAC inhibition by ITF2357 induced histone and tubulin acetylation and downregulated TS expression at the mRNA and protein level. In combination experiments in vitro ITF2357 and pemetrexed demonstrated sequence-dependent synergistic growth-inhibitory effects, with the sequence pemetrexed followed by ITF2357 inducing a strikingly synergistic reduction in cell viability and induction of both apoptosis and autophagy in all cell line models tested, encompassing both adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Conversely, simultaneous administration of both drugs achieved frankly antagonistic effects, while the sequence of ITF2357 followed by pemetrexed had additive to slightly synergistic growth-inhibitory effects only in certain cell lines. Similarly, highly synergistic growth inhibition was also observed in patient-derived lung cancer stem cells (LCSC) exposed to pemetrexed followed by ITF2357. In terms of molecular mechanisms of interaction, the synergistic growth-inhibitory effects observed were only partially related to TS modulation by ITF2357, as genetic silencing of TS expression potentiated growth inhibition by either pemetrexed or ITF2357 and, to a lesser extent, by their sequential combination. Genetic and pharmacological approaches provided an interesting link between the autophagic and apoptotic pathways, and showed that sequential pemetrexed/ITF2357 causes a toxic form of autophagy with consequent activation of a caspase-dependent apoptotic program. In vivo experiments in NSCLC xenografts confirmed that sequential pemetrexed/ITF2357 is feasible and results in increased inhibition of tumor growth and increased mice survival.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Overall, these data provide a strong rationale for the clinical development of sequential schedules employing pemetrexed followed by HDACi in NSCLC.
Project description:Rationale: Resistance to pemetrexed (PEM)-based chemotherapy is a major cause of progression in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. The deubiquitinating enzyme UCHL1 was recently found to play important roles in chemoresistance and tumor progression. However, the potential roles and mechanisms of UCHL1 in PEM resistance remain unclear. Methods: Bioinformatics analyses and immunohistochemistry were used to evaluate UCHL1 expression in NSCLC specimens. Kaplan-Meier analysis with the log-rank test was used for survival analyses. We established PEM-resistant NSCLC cell lines by exposing them to step-wise increases in PEM concentrations, and in vitro and in vivo assays were used to explore the roles and mechanisms of UCHL1 in PEM resistance using the NSCLC cells. Results: In chemoresistant tumors from NSCLC patients, UCHL1 was highly expressed and elevated UCHL1 expression was strongly associated with poor outcomes. Furthermore, UCHL1 expression was significantly upregulated in PEM-resistant NSCLC cells, while genetic silencing or inhibiting UCHL1 suppressed resistance to PEM and other drugs in NSCLC cells. Mechanistically, UCHL1 promoted PEM resistance in NSCLC by upregulating the expression of thymidylate synthase (TS), based on reduced TS expression after UCHL1 inhibition and re-emergence of PEM resistance upon TS restoration. Furthermore, UCHL1 upregulated TS expression, which mitigated PEM-induced DNA damage and cell cycle arrest in NSCLC cells, and also conferred resistance to PEM and other drugs. Conclusions: It appears that UCHL1 promotes PEM resistance by upregulating TS in NSCLC cells, which mitigated DNA damage and cell cycle arrest. Thus, UCHL1 may be a therapeutic target for overcoming PEM resistance in NSCLC patients.
Project description:Overall, NSCLC has a poor 5-year survival and new therapeutic approaches are urgently needed. ERBB-addicted NSCLC that have become resistant to ERBB inhibitors are often refractory to additional therapeutic interventions. The sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor modulator fingolimod (FTY720), approved for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, synergized with the NSCLC therapeutic pemetrexed to kill NSCLC and ovarian cancer cells. This occurred in lung cancer cells expressing mutated K-RAS, mutated ERBB1, or in NSCLC cells resistant to afatinib (an ERBB1/2/4 inhibitor). This drug combination appeared to use overlapping and distinct mechanisms of killing in different cell lines. Activation of AMP-dependent kinase (AMPK) and reduced expression and inactivation of mTOR were associated with increased autophagosome and autolysosome formation. Downregulation of Beclin1 considerably reduced formation of autophagosomes and protected the cells from drug combination-induced killing without significantly altering autolysosome formation. Autophagy protein 5 (ATG5) knock down afforded greater protection against the combination of pemetrexed with fingolimod. Treatment of cells with the mTOR inhibitor everolimus markedly enhanced the lethality of pemetrexed plus fingolimod combination. Our data suggest that the combination of fingolimod with the established NSCLC/ovarian cancer drug pemetrexed should be explored as a new therapy.
Project description:The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between thymidylate synthase (TS), methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) and reduced folate carrier (SLC19A1) gene polymorphisms and the treatment efficacy of pemetrexed-based chemotherapy in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Advanced NSCLC patients received pemetrexed and cisplatin every three weeks. Polymorphisms in the TS, MTHFR and SLC19A1 genes were detected in peripheral blood samples using DNA sequencing and Taqman PCR. An analysis of gene polymorphisms was performed with respect to the progression-free survival (PFS), response rate (RR) and overall survival (OS) of patients treated with pemetrexed. The median PFS times for patients with the TS 2R/2R, 2R/3C or 3C/3C genotypes were significantly longer than those of patients with the 2R/3G, 3C/3G or 3G/3G genotypes (P=0.036). Patients with the SLC19A1 CC genotype had a significantly longer median OS compared with individuals with the homozygous and heterozygous genotypes (12.2 vs. 8.9 and 7.3 months, respectively; P=0.022). The PFS and OS did not differ for the three genotypes of MTHFR assessed. The RR was higher in patients with the TS 2R/2R, 2R/3C or 3C/3C genotypes than in the other groups (P=0.044). The polymorphisms of the 5'-UTR of the TS gene and exon 6 (2522) C/T of the SLC19A1 gene predict the survival of advanced NSCLC patients treated with pemetrexed. However, a large scale clinical trial is required to validate these findings.
Project description:Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide and the therapeutic strategies include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) account for around 85% of cases of lung cancers. Pemetrexed is an antifolate agent that is currently used as the second line chemotherapy drug in the treatment of advanced NSCLC patients with a response rate of 20-40%. The search for any combination therapy to improve the efficacy of pemetrexed is required. The existence of cancer stem cells (CSCs) is considered as the main reason for drug resistance of cancers. In this study, we first found that pemetrexed-resistant NSCLC cells derived from A549 cells displayed higher CSC activity in comparison to the parental cells. The expression of CSC related proteins, such as BMI1 or CD44, and the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) signature was elevated in pemetrexed-resistant NSCLC cells. We next discovered that the overexpression of BMI1 in A549 cells caused the pemetrexed resistance and inhibition of BMI1 by a small molecule inhibitor, PTC-209, or transducing of BMI1-specific shRNAs suppressed cell growth and the expression of thymidylate synthase (TS) in pemetrexed-resistant A549 cells. We further identified that BMI1 positively regulated SP1 expression and treatment of mithramycin A, a SP1 inhibitor, inhibited cell proliferation, as well as TS expression, of pemetrexed-resistant A549 cells. Furthermore, overexpression of BMI1 in A549 cells also caused the activation of EMT in and the enhancement of CSC activity. Finally, we demonstrated that pretreatment of PTC-209 in mice bearing pemetrexed-resistant A549 tumors sensitized them to pemetrexed treatment and the expression of Ki-67, BMI1, and SP1 expression in tumor tissues was observed to be reduced. In conclusion, BMI1 expression level mediates pemetrexed sensitivity of NSCLC cells and the inhibition of BMI1 will be an effective strategy in NSCLC patients when pemetrexed resistance has developed.