Plerixafor as a chemosensitizing agent in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia: efficacy and potential mechanisms of resistance to CXCR4 inhibition.
ABSTRACT: In spite of advances in the treatment of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a significant number of children with ALL are not cured of their disease. We and others have shown that signaling from the bone marrow microenvironment confers therapeutic resistance, and that the interaction between CXCR4 and stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1 or CXCL12) is a key mediator of this effect. We demonstrate that ALL cells that upregulate surface CXCR4 in response to chemotherapy treatment are protected from chemotherapy-induced apoptosis when co-cultured with bone marrow stroma. Treatment with the CXCR4 inhibitor plerixafor diminishes stromal protection and confers chemosensitivity. Using xenograft models of high-risk pediatric ALL, plerixafor plus chemotherapy induces significantly decreased leukemic burden, compared to chemotherapy alone. Further, treatment with plerixafor and chemotherapy influences surface expression of CXCR4, VLA-4, and CXCR7 in surviving ALL blasts. Finally, prolonged exposure of ALL blasts to plerixafor leads to a persistent increase in surface CXCR4 expression, along with modulation of surface expression of additional adhesion molecules, and enhanced SDF-1?-induced chemotaxis, findings that may have implications for therapeutic resistance. Our results suggest that while CXCR4 inhibition may prove useful in ALL, further study is needed to understand the full effects of targeting the leukemic microenvironment.
Project description:The interaction of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) blasts with the leukemic microenvironment is postulated to be an important mediator of resistance to chemotherapy and disease relapse. We hypothesized that inhibition of the CXCR4/CXCL12 axis by the small molecule inhibitor, plerixafor, would disrupt the interaction of leukemic blasts with the environment and increase the sensitivity of AML blasts to chemotherapy. In this phase 1/2 study, 52 patients with relapsed or refractory AML were treated with plerixafor in combination with mitoxantrone, etoposide, and cytarabine. In phase 1, plerixafor was escalated to a maximum of 0.24 mg/kg/d without any dose-limiting toxicities. In phase 2, 46 patients were treated with plerixafor 0.24 mg/kg/d in combination with chemotherapy with an overall complete remission and complete remission with incomplete blood count recovery rate (CR + CRi) of 46%. Correlative studies demonstrated a 2-fold mobilization in leukemic blasts into the peripheral circulation. No evidence of symptomatic hyperleukocytosis or delayed count recovery was observed with the addition of plerixafor. We conclude that the addition of plerixafor to cytotoxic chemotherapy is feasible in AML, and results in encouraging rates of remission with correlative studies demonstrating in vivo evidence of disruption of the CXCR4/CXCL12 axis.
Project description:Plerixafor, a reversible CXCR4 antagonist, inhibits interactions between leukemic blasts and the bone marrow stromal microenvironment and may enhance chemosensitivity. A phase 1 trial of plerixafor in combination with intensive chemotherapy in children and young adults with relapsed or refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) was performed to determine a tolerable and biologically active dose.Plerixafor was administered daily for 5 days at four dose levels (6, 9, 12, and 15 mg/m2 /dose) followed 4 hr later by high-dose cytarabine (every 12 hr) and etoposide (daily).Nineteen patients (13 with AML, 5 with ALL, 1 with MDS) were treated. The most common grade 3 or greater nonhematologic toxicities attributable to plerixafor were febrile neutropenia and hypokalemia. There were no dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs). Plerixafor exposure increased with increasing dose levels and clearance was similar on days 1 and 5. Eighteen patients were evaluable for response. Two patients achieved complete remission (CR) and one patient achieved CR with incomplete hematologic recovery (CRi): all three had AML. No responses were seen in patients with ALL or MDS. Plerixafor mobilized leukemic blasts into the peripheral blood in 14 of 16 evaluable patients (median 3.4-fold increase), and the degree of mobilization correlated with surface CXCR4 expression.Plerixafor, in combination with high-dose cytarabine and etoposide, was well tolerated in children and young adults with relapsed/refractory acute leukemias and MDS. While biologic responses were observed, clinical responses in this heavily pretreated cohort were modest.
Project description:SDF-1alpha/CXCR4 signaling plays a key role in leukemia/bone marrow microenvironment interactions. We previously reported that bone marrow-derived stromal cells inhibit chemotherapy-induced apoptosis in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Here we demonstrate that the CXCR4 inhibitor AMD3465 antagonized stromal-derived factor 1alpha (SDF-1alpha)-induced and stroma-induced chemotaxis and inhibited SDF-1alpha-induced activation of prosurvival signaling pathways in leukemic cells. Further, CXCR4 inhibition partially abrogated the protective effects of stromal cells on chemotherapy-induced apoptosis in AML cells. Fetal liver tyrosine kinase-3 (FLT3) gene mutations activate CXCR4 signaling, and coculture with stromal cells significantly diminished antileukemia effects of FLT3 inhibitors in cells with mutated FLT3. Notably, CXCR4 inhibition increased the sensitivity of FLT3-mutated leukemic cells to the apoptogenic effects of the FLT3 inhibitor sorafenib. In vivo studies demonstrated that AMD3465, alone or in combination with granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, induced mobilization of AML cells and progenitor cells into circulation and enhanced antileukemic effects of chemotherapy and sorafenib, resulting in markedly reduced leukemia burden and prolonged survival of the animals. These findings indicate that SDF-1alpha/CXCR4 interactions contribute to the resistance of leukemic cells to signal transduction inhibitor- and chemotherapy-induced apoptosis in systems mimicking the physiologic microenvironment. Disruption of these interactions with CXCR4 inhibitors represents a novel strategy of sensitizing leukemic cells by targeting their protective bone marrow microenvironment.
Project description:The importance of the cell surface receptor CXCR4 and the chemokine stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1/CXCL12) is well-established in normal and malignant hematopoiesis. The Protein Epitope Mimetic POL5551 is a novel and potent antagonist of CXCR4. POL5551 efficiently mobilizes hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, but its effects in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) have not been reported. Here, we demonstrate that POL5551 is a potent antagonist of CXCR4 in pre-B and T cell ALL cell lines and pediatric ALL primary samples. POL5551 has activity at nanomolar concentrations in decreasing CXCR4 antibody binding, blocking SDF-1?-mediated phosphorylation of ERK1/2, inhibiting SDF-1?-induced chemotaxis, and reversing stromal-mediated protection from chemotherapy. POL5551 is significantly more effective at inhibiting CXCR4 antibody binding than the FDA-approved CXCR4 inhibitor plerixafor in ALL cell lines and primary samples. We also show that treatment with POL5551 in vitro and cytarabine +/- POL5551 in vivo modulates surface expression of adhesion molecules, findings that may guide the optimal clinical use of POL5551. Finally, we demonstrate that POL5551 increases sensitivity to cytarabine in a xenograft model of a high-risk pediatric ALL, infant MLL-rearranged (MLL-R) ALL. Therefore, disruption of the CXCR4/SDF-1 axis with POL5551 may improve outcomes in children with high-risk ALL.
Project description:Targeting the stromal cell-derived factor 1? (SDF-1?)/C-X-C chemokine receptor type 4 (CXCR4) axis has been shown to be a promising therapeutic approach to overcome chemoresistance in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We investigated the antileukemia efficacy of a novel peptidic CXCR4 antagonist, LY2510924, in preclinical models of AML. LY2510924 rapidly and durably blocked surface CXCR4 and inhibited stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1)?-induced chemotaxis and prosurvival signals of AML cells at nanomolar concentrations more effectively than the small-molecule CXCR4 antagonist AMD3100. In vitro, LY2510924 chiefly inhibited the proliferation of AML cells with little induction of cell death and reduced protection against chemotherapy by stromal cells. In mice with established AML, LY2510924 caused initial mobilization of leukemic cells into the circulation followed by reduction in total tumor burden. LY2510924 had antileukemia effects as monotherapy as well as in combination with chemotherapy. Gene expression profiling of AML cells isolated from LY2510924-treated mice demonstrated changes consistent with loss of SDF-1?/CXCR4 signaling and suggested reduced proliferation and induction of differentiation, which was proved by showing the attenuation of multiple prosurvival pathways such as PI3K/AKT, MAPK, and ?-catenin and myeloid differentiation in vivo. Effective disruption of the SDF-1?/CXCR4 axis by LY2510924 may translate into effective antileukemia therapy in future clinical applications.
Project description:Glioblastoma is the most aggressive and malignant primary brain tumor in adults and has a poor patient survival of only 20 months after diagnosis. This poor patient survival is at least partly caused by glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs), which are slowly-dividing and therefore therapy-resistant. GSCs are localized in protective hypoxic peri-arteriolar niches where these aforementioned stemness properties are maintained. We previously showed that hypoxic peri-arteriolar GSC niches in human glioblastoma are functionally similar to hypoxic peri-arteriolar hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) niches in human bone marrow. GSCs and HSCs express the receptor C-X-C receptor type 4 (CXCR4), which binds to the chemoattractant stromal-derived factor-1? (SDF-1?), which is highly expressed in GSC niches in glioblastoma and HSC niches in bone marrow. This receptor-ligand interaction retains the GSCs/HSCs in their niches and thereby maintains their slowly-dividing state. In acute myeloid leukemia (AML), leukemic cells use the SDF-1?-CXCR4 interaction to migrate to HSC niches and become slowly-dividing and therapy-resistant leukemic stem cells (LSCs). In this communication, we aim to elucidate how disruption of the SDF-1?-CXCR4 interaction using the FDA-approved CXCR4 inhibitor plerixafor (AMD3100) may be used to force slowly-dividing cancer stem cells out of their niches in glioblastoma and AML. Ultimately, this strategy aims to induce GSC and LSC differentiation and their sensitization to therapy.
Project description:We hypothesized that during conditioning chemotherapy for allogeneic stem cell transplant (allo-SCT), the disruption of stromal-leukemia interactions using G-CSF in combination with the CXCR4-specific inhibitor, plerixafor, may promote the release of leukemic cells from the niche and increase tumor elimination. In a phase 1/2 investigation, we treated 45 AML/myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)/CML patients (34 AML, 7 MDS and 4 CML) with G-CSF (10 ?g/kg daily for 6 days starting on day -9) plus plerixafor (doses of 0, 80, 160 or 240 ?g/kg daily for 4 days starting on day -7) along with the busulfan-fludarabine (Bu-Flu) conditioning regimen. In the phase 1 part, we determined that G-CSF plus plerixafor is safe in this setting. We compared the clinical effects and outcomes of AML/MDS study patients (n=40) with 164 patients from a historical data set who received Bu-Flu alone before allo-SCT by stratifying on cytogenetics and disease status to correct for bias. Study patients had increased myeloid chimerism and lower rates of GvHD. There was no significant difference in relapse-free survival or overall survival. The G-CSF plus plerixafor combination increased circulating WBCs, CD34+ cells and CXCR4+ cells, and preferentially mobilized FISH+ leukemic cells.
Project description:Drug resistance is a growing area of concern. It has been shown that a small, residual pool of leukemic CD34+ progenitor cells can survive in the marrow microenvironment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients after years of kinase inhibitor treatment. Bone marrow (BM) stroma has been implicated in the long-term survival of leukemic cells, and contributes to the expansion and proliferation of both transformed and normal hematopoietic cells. Mechanistically, we found that CML cells expressed CXCR4, and that plerixafor diminished BCR-ABL-positive cell migration and reduced adhesion of these cells to extra cellular-matrix components and to BM stromal cells in vitro. Moreover, plerixafor decreased the drug resistance of CML cells induced by co-culture with BM stromal cells in vitro. Using a functional mouse model of progressive and residual disease, we demonstrated the ability of the CXCR4 inhibitor, plerixafor, to mobilize leukemic cells in vivo, such that a plerixafor-nilotinib combination reduced the leukemia burden in mice significantly below the baseline level suppression exhibited by a moderate-to-high dose of nilotinib as single agent. These results support the idea of using CXCR4 inhibition in conjunction with targeted tyrosine kinase inhibition to override drug resistance in CML and suppress or eradicate residual disease.
Project description:High-dose chemotherapy and autologous transplantation of hematopoietic cells is a crucial treatment option for hematologic malignancy patients. Current mobilization regimes often do not provide adequate numbers of CD34(+) cells. The chemokine receptor CXCR4 and ligand SDF-1 are integrally involved in homing and mobilization of hematopoietic progenitor cells. Disruption of the CXCR4/SDF-1 axis by the CXCR4 antagonist, plerixafor, has been demonstrated in Phase II and Phase III trials to improve mobilization when used in conjunction with granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF). This approach is safe with few adverse events and produces significantly greater numbers of CD34(+) cells when compared to G-CSF alone. New plerixafor initiatives include use in volunteer donors for allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant and in other disease targets.
Project description:To characterize intracellular signaling in peripheral blood (PB) cells of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients undergoing pretransplant conditioning with CXCR4 inhibitor plerixafor, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), and busulfan plus fludarabine (Bu+Flu) chemotherapy, we profiled 153 proteins in 33 functional groups using reverse phase protein array. CXCR4 inhibition mobilized AML progenitors and clonal AML cells, and this was associated with molecular markers of cell cycle progression. G-CSF/plerixafor and G-CSF/plerixafor/Bu+Flu modulated distinct signaling networks in AML blasts of patients undergoing conditioning with active disease compared to nonleukemic PB cells of patients in remission. We identified AML-specific proteins that remained aberrantly expressed after chemotherapy, representing putative chemoresistance markers in AML.