Metformin Treatment Does Not Inhibit Growth of Pancreatic Cancer Patient-Derived Xenografts.
ABSTRACT: There is currently tremendous interest in developing anti-cancer therapeutics targeting cell signaling pathways important for both cancer cell metabolism and growth. Several epidemiological studies have shown that diabetic patients taking metformin have a decreased incidence of pancreatic cancer. This has prompted efforts to evaluate metformin, a drug with negligible toxicity, as a therapeutic modality in pancreatic cancer. Preclinical studies in cell line xenografts and one study in patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models were promising, while recently published clinical trials showed no benefit to adding metformin to combination therapy regimens for locally advanced and metastatic pancreatic cancer. PDX models in which patient tumors are directly engrafted into immunocompromised mice have been shown to be excellent preclinical models for biomarker discovery and therapeutic development. We evaluated the response of four PDX tumor lines to metformin treatment and found that all four of our PDX lines were resistant to metformin. We found that the mechanisms of resistance may occur through lack of sustained activation of adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) or downstream reactivation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Moreover, combined treatment with metformin and mTOR inhibitors failed to improve responses in cell lines, which further indicates that metformin alone or in combination with mTOR inhibitors will be ineffective in patients, and that resistance to metformin may occur through multiple pathways. Further studies are required to better understand these mechanisms of resistance and inform potential combination therapies with metformin and existing or novel therapeutics.
Project description:Attempts to directly block the mutant neuroblastoma rat sarcoma oncogene (NRAS) protein, a driving mutation in many cancer types, have been unsuccessful. Current treatments focus on inhibition of different components of NRAS' two main downstream cascades: PI3K/AKT/mTOR and MAPK. Here we test a novel dual therapy combination of metformin and trametinib on a panel of 16 NRAS mutant cell lines, including melanoma cells, melanoma cells with acquired trametinib resistance, lung cancer and neuroblastoma cells. We show that both of the main downstream cascades of NRAS can be blocked by this combination: metformin indirectly inhibits the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway and trametinib directly impedes the MAPK pathway. This dual therapy synergistically reduced cell viability in vitro and xenograft tumor growth in vivo. We conclude that metformin and trametinib combinations are effective in preclinical models and may be a possible option for treatment of NRAS mutant cancers.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:Treatment options for neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are rarely curative, as NETs frequently show resistance to medical therapy. The use of everolimus, an mTOR inhibitor, is limited by the development of resistance, probably due to the activation of Akt signaling. In this context, the antidiabetic drug metformin is able to inhibit mTOR, providing a rationale for the use of metformin and everolimus in combination. METHODS:We investigated the effects of the metformin and everolimus combination on NET cell proliferation, apoptosis, colony formation, cell viability, NET spheroids growth and the involvement of the Akt and mTOR pathways, and also developed everolimus-resistant NET cells to further study this combination. RESULTS:Metformin and everolimus in combination are more effective than monotherapy in inhibiting pancreatic NET (PAN-NET) cell proliferation (-71% ± 13%, p < 0.0001 vs. basal), whereas no additive effects were observed on pulmonary neuroendocrine tumor (PNT) cell proliferation. The combinatorial treatment is more effective than monotherapy in inhibiting colony formation, cell viability, NET spheroids growth rate and mTOR phosphorylation in both NET cell lines. In a PAN-NET cell line, metformin did not affect Akt phosphorylation; conversely, it significantly decreased Akt phosphorylation in a PNT cell line. Using everolimus-resistant NET cells, we confirmed that metformin maintained its effects, acting by two different pathways: Akt-dependent or independent, depending on the cell type, with both leading to mTOR suppression. CONCLUSIONS:Considering the promising effects of the everolimus and metformin combination in NET cells, our results provide a rationale for its use in NET patients.
Project description:Incidence of endocrine cancers is rising every year. Over the last decade, evidence has accumulated that demonstrates the anti-cancer effects of an anti-diabetic drug, metformin, in endocrine malignancies. We performed a literature review utilizing the PubMed, Medline and clinicaltrials.gov databases using the keyword 'metformin' plus the following terms: 'thyroid cancer', 'thyroid nodules', 'parathyroid', 'hyperparathyroidism', 'adrenal adenoma', 'Cushing syndrome', 'hyperaldosteronism', 'adrenocortical cancer', 'neuroendocrine tumor (NET)', 'pancreatic NET (pNET)', 'carcinoid', 'pituitary adenoma', 'pituitary neuroendocrine tumor (PitNET)', 'prolactinoma', 'pheochromocytoma/paraganglioma'. We found 37 studies describing the preclinical and clinical role of metformin in endocrine tumors. The available epidemiological data show an association between exposure of metformin and lower incidence of thyroid cancer and pNETs in diabetic patients. Metformin treatment has been associated with better response to cancer therapy in thyroid cancer and pNETs. Preclinical evidence suggests that the primary direct mechanisms of metformin action include inhibition of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation via inhibition of both mitochondrial complex I and mitochondrial glycerophosphate dehydrogenase, leading to metabolic stress. Decreased ATP production leads to an activation of a cellular energy sensor, AMPK, and subsequent downregulation of mTOR signaling pathway, which is associated with decreased cellular proliferation. We also describe several AMPK-independent mechanisms of metformin action, as well as the indirect mechanisms targeting insulin resistance. Overall, repositioning of metformin has emerged as a promising strategy for adjuvant therapy of endocrine tumors. The mechanisms of synergy between metformin and other anti-cancer agents need to be elucidated further to guide well-designed prospective trials on combination therapies in endocrine malignancies.
Project description:Despite advances in cancer therapeutics, pancreatic cancer remains difficult to treat and often develops resistance to chemotherapies. We have evaluated a bioavailable genistein analogue, AXP107-11 which has completed phase Ib clinical trial, as an approach to sensitize tumor cells to chemotherapy. Using organotypic cultures of 14 patient-derived xenografts (PDX) of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, we found that addition of AXP107-11 indeed sensitized 57% of cases to gemcitabine treatment. Results were validated using PDX models in vivo. Further, RNA-Seq from responsive and unresponsive tumors proposed a 41-gene treatment-predictive signature. Functional and molecular assays were performed in cell lines and demonstrated that the effect was synergistic. Transcriptome analysis indicated activation of G-protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER1) as the main underlying mechanism of action, which was corroborated using GPER1-selective agonists and antagonists. GPER1 expression in pancreatic tumors was indicative of survival, and our study proposes that activation of GPER1 may constitute a new avenue for pancreatic cancer therapeutics.
Project description:PURPOSE:Palbociclib is an approved cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) 4/6 inhibitor for treatment of patients with ER-positive and HER2-negative breast cancers. While Retinoblastoma protein (pRb), a major substrate of CDK4/6, is a potential target in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), the usefulness of CDK4/6 inhibitors in this cancer has not been established. This preclinical study investigated the combination effects of palbociclib and the dual mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) kinase inhibitor MLN0128 in estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer in vitro and in vivo. METHODS:The combined effects of two drugs on three TNBC cell lines (MB231, MB468, and CAL148) and an ER-negative and HER2-positive cell line (MB453) were investigated by MTT assay and colony formation analysis. Cell cycle measurements were examined as well as changes in expression of molecules related to G1/S transition and the mTOR pathway. Importantly, a pRb-expressing TNBC patient-derived xenograft (PDX) model was used to assess the effects of the combination in vivo. RESULTS:A combination of palbociclib and MLN0128 synergistically inhibited the proliferation of pRb-expressing cell lines and induced G1 cell cycle arrest. Western blot analysis revealed that CDK4/6-pRb and mTOR pathways were inhibited by these treatments. In pRb-expressing TNBC PDX, the combination treatment drastically suppressed tumor growth compared to either the control or single drug treatments. In addition, the combination treatment significantly reduced the number of Ki67-positive cells. CONCLUSIONS:We revealed that palbociclib and MLN0128 had synergistic anti-cancer activity in both pRb?+?ER-negative cell lines and a TNBC PDX model. Our results indicate that such combination therapy is worthy of further investigation in a clinical setting.
Project description:Many preclinical and clinical studies are currently evaluating metformin in combination with classical therapeutic agents as anti-cancer therapy. In this study we used three distinct pancreatic cancer cell lines and evaluated cell death by trypan blue assay and Western Blots using antibodies directed against cleaved caspase 3 and PARP. Surprisingly, we observed that 20mM metformin did not enhance, but rather inhibited gemcitabine induced cell death in murine 7265PDA, 6606PDA and 6606l cells. Microenvironmental aspects such as oxygen supply or the pH value did not influence the inhibition of cancer cell apoptosis by metformin. Glucose concentration in the medium, however, had a major effect on the impact of metformin. Medium with 0.5g/L glucose strongly increased metformin induced apoptosis and also prevented the inhibitory effect of metformin on gemcitabine induced cell apoptosis, when compared with medium containing 4.5g/L glucose. We conclude that the combination of metformin with gemcitabine has inappropriate effects for a successful treatment of pancreatic cancer. Thus, it might be more promising to use metformin in combination with other drugs that reduce the uptake or the metabolism of glucose.
Project description:Pancreatic cancer is chemo-resistant and metastasizes early with an overall five-year survival of ?8.2%. First-in-class imipridone ONC201 is a small molecule in clinical trials with anti-cancer activity. ONC212, a fluorinated-ONC201 analogue, shows preclinical efficacy in melanoma and hepatocellular-cancer models. We investigated efficacy of ONC201 and ONC212 against pancreatic cancer cell lines (N=16 including 9 PDX-cell lines). We demonstrate ONC212 efficacy in 4 in-vivo models including ONC201-resistant tumors. ONC212 is active in pancreatic cancer as single agent or in combination with 5-fluorouracil, irinotecan, oxaliplatin or RTK inhibitor crizotinib. Based on upregulation of pro-survival IGF1-R in some tumors, we found an active combination of ONC212 with inhibitor AG1024, including in vivo. We show a rationale for targeting pancreatic cancer using ONC212 combined with targeting the unfolded-protein response and ER chaperones such as GRP78/BIP. Our results lay the foundation to test imipridones, anti-cancer agents, in pancreatic cancer, that is refractory to most drugs.
Project description:Metformin and aspirin have been studied extensively as cancer preventive or therapeutic agents. However, the effects of their combination on pancreatic cancer cells have not been investigated. Herein, we evaluated the effects of metformin and aspirin, alone or in combination, on cell viability, migration, and apoptosis as well as the molecular changes in mTOR, STAT3 and apoptotic signaling pathways in PANC-1 and BxPC3 cells. Metformin and aspirin, at relatively low concentrations, demonstrated synergistically inhibitory effects on cell viability. Compared to the untreated control or individual drug, the combination of metformin and aspirin significantly inhibited cell migration and colony formation of both PANC-1 and BxPC-3 cells. Metformin combined with aspirin significantly inhibited the phosphorylation of mTOR and STAT3, and induced apoptosis as measured by caspase-3 and PARP cleavage. Remarkably, metformin combined with aspirin significantly downregulated the anti-apoptotic proteins Mcl-1 and Bcl-2, and upregulated the pro-apoptotic proteins Bim and Puma, as well as interrupted their interactions. The downregulation of Mcl-1 and Bcl-2 was independent of AMPK or STAT3 pathway but partially through mTOR signaling and proteasome degradation. In a PANC-1 xenograft mouse model, we demonstrated that the combination of metformin and aspirin significantly inhibited tumor growth and downregulated the protein expression of Mcl-1 and Bcl-2 in tumors. Taken together, the combination of metformin and aspirin significantly inhibited pancreatic cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo by regulating the pro- and anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members, supporting the continued investigation of this two drug combination as chemopreventive or chemotherapeutic agents for pancreatic cancer.
Project description:Patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNET) commonly develop advanced disease and require systemic therapy. However, treatment options remain limited, in part, because experimental models that reliably emulate PNET disease are lacking. We therefore developed a patient-derived xenograft model of PNET (PDX-PNET), which we then used to evaluate two mTOR inhibitor drugs: FDA-approved everolimus and the investigational new drug sapanisertib. PDX-PNETs maintained a PNET morphology and PNET-specific gene expression signature with serial passage. PDX-PNETs also harbored mutations in genes previously associated with PNETs (such as MEN1 and PTEN), displayed activation of the mTOR pathway, and could be detected by Gallium-68 DOTATATE PET-CT. Treatment of PDX-PNETs with either everolimus or sapanisertib strongly inhibited growth. As seen in patients, some PDX-PNETs developed resistance to everolimus. However, sapanisertib, a more potent inhibitor of the mTOR pathway, caused tumor shrinkage in most everolimus-resistant tumors. Our PDX-PNET model is the first available, validated PDX model for PNET, and preclinical data from the use of this model suggest that sapanisertib may be an effective new treatment option for patients with PNET or everolimus-resistant PNET.
Project description:Metformin treatment is associated with a decreased risk and better prognosis of pancreatic cancer (PC) in patients with type 2 diabetes, but the mechanism of metformin's PC growth inhibition in the context of a prediabetic state is unknown. We used a Panc02 pancreatic tumor cell transplant model in diet-induced obese (DIO) C57BL/6 mice to compare the effects of metformin and the direct mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor rapamycin on PC growth, glucose regulation, mTOR pathway signaling, and candidate microRNA (miR) expression. In DIO/prediabetic mice, metformin and rapamycin significantly reduced pancreatic tumor growth and mTOR-related signaling. The rapamycin effects centered on decreased mTOR-regulated growth and survival signaling, including increased expression of let-7b and cell cycle-regulating miRs. Metformin (but not rapamycin) reduced glucose and insulin levels and expression of miR-34a and its direct targets Notch, Slug, and Snail. Metformin also reduced the number and size of Panc02 tumor spheres in vitro and inhibited the expression of Notch in spheroids. Our results suggest that metformin and rapamycin can both inhibit pancreatic tumor growth in obese, prediabetic mice through shared and distinct mechanisms. Metformin and direct mTOR inhibitors, alone or possibly in combination, represent promising intervention strategies for breaking the diabetes-PC link.