We recently noted that low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat interact in a synergistic fashion to kill carcinoma cells by activating CD95, and this drug combination is entering phase I trials. The present studies mechanistically extended our initial observations. Low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat, but not the individual agents, caused an acidic sphingomyelinase and fumonisin B1-dependent increase in CD95 surface levels and CD95 association with caspase 8. Knock down of CD95 or FADD expression reduced sorafenib/vorinostat lethality. Signaling by CD95 caused PERK activation that was responsible for both promoting caspase 8 association with CD95 and for increased eIF2α phosphorylation; suppression of eIF2α function abolished drug combination lethality. Cell killing was paralleled by PERK- and eIF2α-dependent lowering of c-FLIP-s protein levels and over-expression of c-FLIP-s maintained cell viability. In a CD95-, FADD- and PERK-dependent fashion, sorafenib and vorinostat increased expression of ATG5 that was responsible for enhanced autophagy. Expression of PDGFRβ and FLT3 were essential for high dose single agent sorafenib treatment to promote autophagy. Suppression of PERK function reduced sorafenib and vorinostat lethality whereas suppression of ATG5 levels elevated sorafenib and vorinostat lethality. Over-expression of c-FLIP-s blocked apoptosis and enhanced drug-induced autophagy. Thus sorafenib and vorinostat promote ceramide-dependent CD95 activation followed by induction of multiple downstream survival regulatory signals: ceramide-CD95-PERK-FADD-pro-caspase 8 (death); ceramide-CD95-PERK-eIF2α -↓c-FLIP-s (death); ceramide-CD95-PERK-ATG5-autophagy (survival).
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; CD95; c-FLIP-s; PDGFRβ; FLT3; autophagy; ceramide; cell death; ASMase
The targeted therapeutics sorafenib and vorinostat interact in a synergistic fashion to kill carcinoma cells by activating CD95, and this drug combination is entering phase I evaluation. In this study we determined how CD95 is activated by treatment with this drug combination. Low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat but not the individual drugs rapidly increased ROS, Ca2+ and ceramide levels in GI tumor cells. The production of ROS was reduced in Rho zero cells. Quenching ROS blocked drug-induced CD95 surface localization and apoptosis. ROS generation, CD95 activation and cell killing was also blocked by quenching of induced Ca2+ levels or by inhibition of PP2A. Inhibition of acidic sphingomyelinase or de novo ceramide generation blocked the induction of ROS however combined inhibition of both acidic sphingomyelinase and de novo ceramide generation was required to block the induction of Ca2+. Quenching of ROS did not impact on drug-induced ceramide/dihydro-ceramide levels whereas quenching of Ca2+ reduced the ceramide increase. Sorafenib and vorinostat treatment radiosensitized liver and pancreatic cancer cells, an effect that was suppressed by quenching ROS or knock down of LASS6. Further, sorafenib and vorinostat treatment suppressed the growth of pancreatic tumors in vivo. Our findings demonstrate that induction of cytosolic Ca2+ by sorafenib and vorinostat is a primary event that elevates dihydroceramide levels, each essential steps in ROS generation that promotes CD95 activation.
Purpose and Design
Mechanism(s) by which the multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib and the histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat interact to kill hepatic, renal and pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells have been defined.
Low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat interacted in vitro in a synergistic fashion to kill hepatic, renal and pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells in multiple short term viability (24–96h) and in long term colony formation assays. Cell killing was suppressed by inhibition of cathepsin proteases and caspase 8, and to a lesser extent by inhibition of caspase 9. Twenty four hours after exposure, the activities of ERK1/2, AKT and NFκB were only modestly modulated by sorafenib and vorinostat treatment. However, 24h after exposure, sorafenib and vorinostat- treated cells exhibited markedly diminished expression of c-FLIP-s, full length BID, BCL-2, BCLXL, MCL-1, XIAP, increased expression of BIM, and increased activation of BAX, BAK and BAD. Expression of eIF2α S51A blocked sorafenib and vorinostat –induced suppression of c-FLIP-s levels and over-expression of c-FLIP-s abolished lethality. Sorafenib and vorinostat treatment increased surface levels of CD95 and CD95 association with caspase 8. Knock down of CD95 or FADD expression significantly reduced sorafenib / vorinostat -mediated lethality.
These data demonstrate that combined exposure of epithelial tumor cell types to sorafenib and vorinostat diminishes expression of multiple anti-apoptotic proteins, promotes activation of the CD95 extrinsic apoptotic and the lysosomal protease pathways, and that suppression of c-FLIP-s expression represents a critical event in transduction of the pro-apoptotic signals from CD95 to promote mitochondrial dysfunction and death.
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; CD95; c-FLIP-s; caspase 8; cathepsin; cell death
Sorafenib, a multi-tyrosine kinase inhibitor, kills more effectively the non-metastatic prostate cancer cell line 22Rv1 than the highly metastatic prostate cancer cell line PC3. In 22Rv1 cells, constitutively active STAT3 and ERK are targeted by sorafenib, contrasting with PC3 cells, in which these kinases are not active. Notably, overexpression of a constitutively active MEK construct in 22Rv1 cells stimulates the sustained phosphorylation of Bad and protects from sorafenib-induced cell death. In PC3 cells, Src and AKT are constitutively activated and targeted by sorafenib, leading to an increase in Bim protein levels. Overexpression of constitutively active AKT or knockdown of Bim protects PC3 cells from sorafenib-induced killing. In both PC3 and 22Rv1 cells, Mcl-1 depletion is required for the induction of cell death by sorafenib as transient overexpression of Mcl-1 is protective. Interestingly, co-culturing of primary cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) with 22Rv1 or PC3 cells protected the cancer cells from sorafenib-induced cell death, and this protection was largely overcome by co-administration of the Bcl-2 antagonist, ABT737. In summary, the differential tyrosine kinase profile of prostate cancer cells defines the cytotoxic efficacy of sorafenib and this profile is modulated by CAFs to promote resistance. The combination of sorafenib with Bcl-2 antagonists, such as ABT737, may constitute a promising therapeutic strategy against prostate cancer.
prostate cancer; tyrosine kinase inhibitor; sorafenib; apoptosis; autophagy; ABT737
Pemetrexed (ALIMTA) is a folate anti-metabolite that has been approved for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, and has been shown to stimulate autophagy. In the present study, we sought to further understand the role of autophagy in the response to pemetrexed and to test if combination therapy could enhance the level of toxicity through altered autophagy in tumor cells. The multikinase inhibitor sorafenib (NEXAVAR), used in the treatment of renal and hepatocellular carcinoma, suppresses tumor angiogenesis and promotes autophagy in tumor cells. We found that sorafenib interacted in a greater than additive fashion with pemetrexed to increase autophagy and to kill a diverse array of tumor cell types. Tumor cell types that displayed high levels of cell killing after combination treatment showed elevated levels of AKT, p70 S6K and/or phosphorylated mTOR, in addition to class III RTKs such as PDGFRβ and VEGFR1, known in vivo targets of sorafenib. In xenograft and in syngeneic animal models of mammary carcinoma and glioblastoma, the combination of sorafenib and pemetrexed suppressed tumor growth without deleterious effects on normal tissues or animal body mass. Taken together, the data suggest that premexetred and sorafenib act synergistically to enhance tumor killing via the promotion of a toxic form of autophagy that leads to activation of the intrinsic apoptosis pathway, and predict that combination treatment represents a future therapeutic option in the treatment of solid tumors.
pemetrexed; sorafenib; autophagy; apoptosis; PDGFR; ZMP; AMP; thymidylate synthase
Pemetrexed (ALIMTA) is a folate anti-metabolite that has been approved for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, and has been shown to stimulate autophagy. In the present study, we sought to further understand the role of autophagy in the response to pemetrexed and to test if combination therapy could enhance the level of toxicity through altered autophagy in tumor cells. The multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib (NEXAVAR), used in the treatment of renal and hepatocellular carcinoma, suppresses tumor angiogenesis and promotes autophagy in tumor cells. We found that sorafenib interacted in a greater than additive fashion with pemetrexed to increase autophagy and to kill a diverse array of tumor cell types. Tumor cell types that displayed high levels of cell killing after combination treatment showed elevated levels of AKT, p70 S6K and/or phosphorylated mTOR, in addition to Class III RTKs such as PDGFRβ and VEGFR1, known in vivo targets of sorafenib. In xenograft and in syngeneic animal models of mammary carcinoma and glioblastoma, the combination of sorafenib and pemetrexed suppressed tumor growth without deleterious effects on normal tissues or animal body mass. Taken together, the data suggest that premexetred and sorafenib act synergistically to enhance tumor killing via the promotion of a toxic form of autophagy that leads to activation of the intrinsic apoptosis pathway, and predict that combination treatment represents a future therapeutic option in the treatment of solid tumors.
The Janus kinase/signal transducer and activator of transcription (JAK/STAT) pathway is one of the key signaling cascades in cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) cells, mediating their resistance to apoptosis. Our aim was to ascertain if sorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor, may also inhibit JAK/STAT signaling and, therefore, be efficacious for CCA. Sorafenib treatment of three human CCA cell lines resulted in Tyr705 phospho-STAT3 dephosphorylation. Similar results were obtained with the Raf-kinase inhibitor ZM336372, suggesting sorafenib promotes Tyr705 phospho-STAT3 dephosphorylation by inhibiting Raf-kinase activity. Sorafenib treatment enhanced an activating phosphorylation of the phosphatase SHP2. Consistent with this observation, small interfering RNA–mediated knockdown of phosphatase shatterproof 2 (SHP2) inhibited sorafenib-induced Tyr705 phospho-STAT3 dephosphorylation. Sorafenib treatment also decreased the expression of Mcl-1 messenger RNA and protein, a STAT3 transcriptional target, as well as sensitizing CCA cells to tumor necrosis factor–related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)-mediated apoptosis. In an orthotopic, syngeneic CCA model in rats, sorafenib displayed significant tumor suppression resulting in a survival benefit for treated animals. In this in vivo model, sorafenib also decreased tumor Tyr705 STAT3 phosphorylation and increased tumor cell apoptosis.
Sorafenib accelerates STAT3 dephosphorylation by stimulating phosphatase SHP2 activity, sensitizes CCA cells to TRAIL-mediated apoptosis, and is therapeutic in a syngeneic rat, orthotopic CCA model that mimics human disease.
AIM: To investigate the inhibitory role and the underlying mechanisms of sorafenib on signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) activity in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
METHODS: Human and rat HCC cell lines were treated with sorafenib. Proliferation and STAT3 dephosphorylation were assessed. Potential molecular mechanisms of STAT3 pathway inhibition by sorafenib were evaluated. In vivo antitumor action and STAT3 inhibition were investigated in an immunocompetent orthotopic rat HCC model.
RESULTS: Sorafenib decreased STAT3 phosphorylation at the tyrosine and serine residues (Y705 and S727), but did not affect Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) and phospha-tase shatterproof 2 (SHP2), which is associated with growth inhibition in HCC cells. Dephosphorylation of S727 was associated with attenuated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) phosphorylation, similar to the effects of a mitogen-activated protein kinase (MEK) inhibitor U0126, suggesting that sorafenib induced S727 dephosphorylation by inhibiting MEK/ERK signaling. Meanwhile, sorafenib could also inhibit Akt phosphorylation, and both the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor LY294002 and Akt knockdown resulted in Y705 dephosphorylation, indicating that Y705 dephosphorylation by sorafenib was mediated by inhibiting the PI3K/Akt pathway. Finally, in the rat HCC model, sorafenib significantly inhibited STAT3 activity, reducing tumor growth and metastasis.
CONCLUSION: Sorafenib inhibits growth and metastasis of HCC in part by blocking the MEK/ERK/STAT3 and PI3K/Akt/STAT3 signaling pathways, but independent of JAK2 and SHP2 activation.
Hepatocellular carcinoma; Sorafenib; Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3; Extracellular signal regulated kinase; Akt
The manuscripts by Park et al.1 and Zhang et al.2 were initially planned as studies to understand the regulation of cell survival in transformed cells treated with sorafenib and vorinostat, and in primary hepatocytes treated with a bile acid+MEK1/2 inhibitor. In both cell systems we discovered that the toxicity of sorafenib and vorinostat or bile acid+MEK1/2 inhibitor exposure depended on the generation of ceramide and the ligand-independent activation of the CD95 death receptor, with subsequent activation of pro-caspase 8. We noted, however, in these systems that, in parallel with death receptor–induced activation of the extrinsic pathway, CD95 signaling also promoted increased phosphorylation of PKR-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) and eIF2α, increased expression of ATG5, and increased processing of LC3 and vesicularization of a GFP-LC3 construct. The knockdown of ATG5 expression blocked GFP-LC3 vesicularization and enhanced cell killing. Thus ceramide-CD95 signaling promoted cell death via activation of pro-caspase 8 and cell survival via autophagy. PERK was shown to signal in a switch-hitting fashion; PERK promoted CD95-DISC formation and an eIF2α-dependent reduction in c-FLIP-s levels that were essential for cell killing to proceed, but in parallel it also promoted autophagy that was protective. The death receptor-induced apoptosis and autophagy occur proximal to the receptor rather than the mitochondrion, and the relative flow of death receptor signaling into either pathway may determine cell fate. Finally, death receptor induced apoptosis and autophagy could be potential targets for therapeutic intervention.
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; bile acid; CD95; autophagy; ceramide; cell death; ASMase
The growth of many soft tissue sarcomas is dependent on aberrant growth factor signaling, which promotes their proliferation and motility. With this in mind, we evaluated the effect of sorafenib, a receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, on cell growth and apoptosis in sarcoma cell lines of various histological subtypes. We found that sorafenib effectively inhibited cell proliferation in rhabdomyosarcoma, synovial sarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma with IC50 values <5 μM. Sorafenib effectively induced growth arrest in rhabdomyosarcoma cells, which was concurrent with inhibition of Akt and Erk signaling. Studies of ligand-induced phosphorylation of Erk and Akt in rhabdomyosarcoma cells showed that insulin-like growth factor-1 is a potent activator, which can be blocked by treatment with sorafenib. In vivo sorafenib treatment of rhabdomyosarcoma xenografts had a significant inhibitory effect on tumor growth, which was associated with inhibited vascularization and enhanced necrosis in the adjacent tumor stroma. Our results demonstrate that in vitro and in vivo growth of rhabdomyosarcoma can be suppressed by treatment with sorafenib, and suggests the possibilities of using sorafenib as a potential adjuvant therapy for the treatment of rhabdomyosarcoma.
soft tissue sarcoma; kinase inhibitors; targeted therapy; vascularization
Despite conventional treatment strategies glioblastoma, the most common malignant primary brain has a bad prognosis with median survival times of 12-15 month. In this study, the efficacy of sorafenib (Nexavar, BAY43-9006), a multikinase inhibitor, on glioblastoma cells was evaluated both in vitro and in vivo. Treatment of established or patient-derived glioblastoma cells with low concentrations of sorafenib caused a dramatic dose dependent inhibition of proliferation (IC50, 1.5 uM) and induction of apoptosis and autophagy. Sorafenib inhibited phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (Stat3) and expression of cyclins, D and E. In contrast, AKT was not modulated by sorafenib. Most important, systemic delivery of Sorafenib was well tolerated, and significantly suppressed intracranial glioma growth via inhibition of cell proliferation, induction of apoptosis and autophagy, and reduction of angiogenesis. Furthermore, intracranial growth inhibition by sorafenib was accompanied by a significant reduction in ph-Stat3 (Tyr 705) levels. In summary, sorafenib has potent anti-glioma activity in vitro and in vivo.
Glioma; Sorafenib; Stat3; apoptosis; autophagy
Purpose. It has been reported that Th2 cytokines downregulate antitumor immunity, while activation of type T cells promotes antitumor immunity. The aim of this paper was to evaluate host immunity in liver cirrhosis (LC) patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (aHCC) receiving sorafenib therapy. Methods. Forty-five adult Japanese LC patients received sorafenib for aHCC between 2009 and 2011 at our hospital. Sorafenib was administered at a dose of 200–800 mg/day for 4 weeks. Blood samples were collected before and after treatment. Results. Eleven patients were treated with sorafenib at 200 mg/day (200 group), 27 patients received sorafenib at 400 mg/day (400 group), and 7 patients were given sorafenib at 800 mg/day (800 group). There was no significant change in the percentage of Th1 cells after treatment in any group. However, the percentages of Th2 cells and regulatory T cells were significantly decreased after treatment in the 400 group and 800 group compared with before treatment, although there was no significant change after treatment in the 200 group. Conclusions. These results indicate that treatment with sorafenib might induce Th1 dominance and prevent the escape of tumor cells from the host immune system in LC patients with aHCC.
Sorafenib is an oral multitargeted tyrosine and serine/threonine kinase inhibitor
approved for the treatment of advanced renal cell and hepatocellular carcinoma.
An understanding of its dose–toxicity relationship has paved the way for
trials seeking to enhance its clinical activity through the exploration of
alternative dosing strategies. In this article, we review the
dose–toxicity relationship of sorafenib observed during its phase I and
early phase II testing, explore its toxicity profile at the recommended dose and
schedule, discuss the evidence for dose escalation to higher levels, and examine
the preliminary evidence for clinical activity of this strategy. Owing to a
temporal relationship between toxicity and dose, it may be possible in select
patients to escalate sorafenib to doses beyond those currently employed.
However, because of the potential for increased toxicity, sorafenib dose
escalation should currently be performed only in the context of a clinical
dose–response relationship; drug; maximum tolerated dose; toxicity; sorafenib
Aberrant Ras/Raf/MAPK and PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathways are found in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This study reports how sorafenib (a multi-kinase inhibitor) and PI-103 (a dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitor) alone and in combination inhibit the proliferation of the HCC cell line, Huh7.
Materials and Methods
Huh7 proliferation was assayed by 3H-thymidine incorporation and by MTT assay. Western blot was used to detect phosphorylation of the key enzymes in the Ras/Raf and PI3K pathways.
Sorafenib and PI-103, as single agents, inhibited Huh7 proliferation and epidermal growth factor (EGF)-stimulated Huh7 proliferation in a dose-dependent fashion; the combination of sorafenib and PI-103 produced synergistic effects. EGF increased phosphorylation of MEK and ERK, key Ras/Raf downstream signaling proteins; this activation was inhibited by sorafenib. However, sorafenib, as a single agent, increased AKT (Ser473) and mTOR phosphorylation. EGF-stimulated activation of PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway components was inhibited by PI-103. PI-103 is a potent inhibitor of AKT (Ser473) phosphorylation; in contrast, rapamycin stimulated AKT(Ser473) phosphorylation. It was found that PI-103, as a single agent, stimulated MEK and ERK phosphorylation. However, the combination of sorafenib and PI-103 caused inhibition of all the tested kinases in the Ras/Raf and PI3K pathways.
The combination of sorafenib and PI-103 can significantly inhibit EGF-stimulated Huh7 proliferation by blocking both Ras/Raf/MAPK and PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathways.
Epidermal growth factor; PI-103; rapamycin; mTOR complex 1; mTOR complex 2; negative feedback loop
Sorafenib is an orally available kinase inhibitor with activity at Raf, PDGFβ and VEGF receptors that is licensed for the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Current evidence-based post-nephrectomy management of individuals with localized RCC consists of surveillance-based follow up. The SORCE trial is designed to investigate whether treatment with adjuvant sorafenib can reduce recurrence rates in this cohort.
Here we report an idiosyncratic reaction to sorafenib resulting in fatal hepatotoxicity and associated renal failure in a 62 year-old man treated with sorafenib within the SORCE trial.
This is the first reported case of sorafenib exposure associated fatal toxicity in the adjuvant setting and highlights the unpredictable adverse effects of novel adjuvant therapies.
Sorafenib; Hepatotoxicity; Adjuvant; SORCE; RCC; DILI
The use of sorafenib in combination with selected chemotherapies in patients with advanced breast cancer is examined and the incidence, prevention, and management of hand–foot skin reaction are considered.
Current combination therapies for advanced breast cancer provide a modest survival benefit but with greater toxicity than with monotherapies. New combinations are needed that improve the efficacy of current treatments and have acceptable tolerability profiles. Recent clinical trials have assessed the efficacy and safety of the multikinase inhibitor sorafenib in combination with common treatments for advanced breast cancer. Sorafenib has both antiangiogenic and antiproliferative activities and is indicated for patients with unresectable hepatocellular and advanced renal cell carcinoma. Generally, sorafenib is associated with manageable, non–life-threatening adverse events. One of the more common adverse events seen with sorafenib is hand–foot skin reaction, a dermatologic toxicity usually localized to the pressure points of the palms and soles. Although hand–foot skin reaction is reversible and not life threatening, it can have a significant impact on a patient's quality of life and may necessitate dose modification. Moreover, sorafenib is being evaluated in combination with breast cancer treatments that are associated with a similar dermatologic toxicity (e.g., capecitabine-induced hand–foot syndrome). This review looks at the use of sorafenib in combination with selected chemotherapies in patients with advanced breast cancer and considers the incidence, prevention, and management of hand–foot skin reaction.
Breast cancer; Hand–foot skin reaction; Hand–foot syndrome; Sorafenib; Capecitabine; Paclitaxel
Glioblastoma is the most common type of primary brain tumor and is rapidly progressive with few treatment options. Here, we report that sorafenib (≤ 10 μM) inhibited cell proliferation and induced apoptosis in two established cell lines (U87, U251) and two primary cultures (PBT015, PBT022) from human glioblastomas. Effects of sorafenib on these tumor cells were associated with inhibiting phosphorylated STAT3 (Tyr705). Expression of a constitutively activated STAT3 mutant partially blocked the effects of sorafenib, consistent with a role for STAT3 inhibition in the response to sorafenib. Phosphorylated JAK1 was inhibited in U87 and U251 cells, while phosphorylated JAK2 was inhibited in primary cultures. Sodium vanadate, a general inhibitor of protein tyrosine phosphatases, blocked the inhibition of phosphorylation of STAT3 (Tyr705) induced by sorafenib. These data indicate that the inhibition of STAT3 activity by sorafenib involves both inhibition of upstream kinases (JAK1 and JAK2) of STAT3 and increased phosphatase activity. Phosphorylation of AKT was also reduced by sorafenib. In contrast, MAPK were not consistently inhibited by sorafenib in these cells. Two key cyclins (D and E) and the anti-apoptotic protein Mcl-1 were down-regulated by sorafenib in both cell lines and primary cultures. Our data suggest that inhibition of STAT3 signaling by sorafenib contributes to growth arrest and induction of apoptosis in glioblastoma cells. These findings provide a rationale for potential treatment of malignant gliomas with sorafenib.
Sorafenib; glioblastoma; STAT3; apoptosis; proliferation
Sorafenib, a multi-tyrosine kinase inhibitor, is a standard treatment for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The present study was undertaken to determine whether the growth and metastasis of HCC were influenced in mice receiving sorafenib prior to implantation with tumors, and to investigate the in-vivo and in-vitro effect of sorafenib on natural killer (NK) cells. In sorafenib-pretreated BALB/c nu/nu mice and C57BL/6 mice, tumor growth was accelerated, mouse survival was decreased, and lung metastasis was increased. However, the depletion of NK1.1+ cells in C57BL/6 mice eliminated sorafenib-mediated pro-metastatic effects. Sorafenib significantly reduced the number of NK cells and inhibited reactivity of NK cells against tumor cells, in both tumor-bearing and tumor-free C57BL/6 mice. Sorafenib down-regulated the stimulatory receptor CD69 in NK cells of tumor-bearing mice, but not in tumor-free mice, and inhibited proliferation of NK92-MI cells, which is associated with the blocking of the PI3K/AKT pathway, and inhibited cytotoxicity of NK cells in response to tumor targets, which was due to impaired ERK phosphorylation. These results suggest immunotherapeutic approaches activating NK cells may enhance the therapeutic efficacy of sorafenib in HCC patients.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is an aggressive, rapidly progressive malignancy without effective therapy. We evaluate sorafenib efficacy and impact on the cellular pro-survival machinery in vitro, efficacy of sorafenib as monotherapy and in combination with the naturally occurring death receptor agonist, TRAIL using human MPM cell lines, MSTO-211H, M30, REN, H28, H2052 and H2452. In vitro studies of the six MPM lines demonstrated single agent sensitivity to the multikinase inhibitor sorafenib and resistance to TRAIL. H28 and H2452 demonstrated augmented apoptosis with the addition of TRAIL to sorafenib in vitro. Treated cell lines demonstrated sorafenib-induced rapid dephosphorylation of AKT followed shortly by near complete dephosphorylation of the constitutively phosphorylated ERK1/2. Sorafenib therapy also decreased phosphorylation of B-Raf and mTOR in several cell lines. Within 3 h of sorafenib treatment, a number of known pro-survival molecules were dephosphorylated and/or downregulated in expression including MCL-1L, c-FLIPL, survivin and cIAP 1. These changes and eventual cell death did not elicit significant caspase-3 activation or PARP cleavage and pretreatment with the pan-caspase inhibitor, Z-VAD-FMK, did not block sorafenib efficacy but did block the effect of TRAIL monotherapy. Pre-treatment with Z-VAD-FMK did not block the synergistic effect of TRAIL and sorafenib in H28. In summary, single agent treatment with sorafenib results in widespread inhibition of the pro-survival machinery in vitro leading to cell death via a primarily caspase-independent mechanism. Combining sorafenib therapy with TRAIL, may be useful in order to provide a more efficient death signal and this synergistic effect appears to be caspase-independent. Pilot in vivo data demonstrates promising evidence of therapeutic efficacy in human tumor bearing xenograft nu/nu mice. We document single agent activity of sorafenib against MPM, unravel novel effects of sorafenib on anti-apoptotic signaling mediators, and suggest the combination of sorafenib plus TRAIL as possible therapy for clinical testing in MPM.
mesothelioma; cancer therapy; cell death; sorafenib; MCL-1; imaging; TRAIL; caspase-independent
The multi-kinase inhibitor Sorafenib, is the first oral agent to show activity against human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Apoptosis has been shown to be induced in HCC by several agents, including Sorafenib, as well as by the naturally occurring K vitamins (VKs). Since few non toxic agents have activity against HCC growth, we evaluated the activity of Sorafenib and K vitamins, both independently and together on the growth in vitro and in vivo of HCC cells. We found that when VK was combined with Sorafenib, the concentration of Sorafenib required for growth inhibition was substantially reduced. Conversely, VK enhanced Sorafenib effects in several HCC cell lines on growth inhibition. Growth could be inhibited at doses of VK plus Sorafenib that were ineffective with either agent alone,using vitamins K1, K2 and K5. Combination VK1 plus Sorafenib induced apoptosis on FACS, TUNEL staining and caspase activation. Phospho-ERK levels were decreased, as was Mcl-1, an ERK target. Sorafenib alone inhibited growth of transplantable HCC in vivo. At sub-effective Sorafenib doses in vivo, addition of VK1 caused major tumor regression, with decreased phospho-ERK and Mcl-1 staining. Thus, combination VK1 plus Sorafenib strongly induced growth inhibition and apoptosis in rodent and human HCC and inhibited the RAF/MEK/ERK pathway. VK1 alone activated PKA, a mediator of inhibitory Raf phosphorylation. Thus, each agent can antagonize Raf; Sorafenib as a direct inhibitor and VK1 through inhibitory Raf phosphorylation. Since both agents are available for human use, the combination has potential for improving Sorafenib effects in HCC.
Sorafenib; Vitamin K; Apoptosis; ERK; HCC
The approval of sorafenib and active development of many other molecularly targeted agents in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) have presented a challenge to understand the mechanism of action of sorafenib and identify predictive biomarkers to select patients more likely to benefit from sorafenib. The preclinical study by Zhang and celleagues published this month in BMC Medicine provides preliminary evidence that baseline phosphorylated extracellular signaling-regulated kinase (pERK) may be a relevant marker to reflect the level of constitutive activation of the RAF/mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)/ERK signaling pathway and has the potential value in predicting response to sorafenib. The clinical data from the initial single arm phase II study and preliminary report from the randomized phase III study also suggest the correlation of baseline archived tumor pERK levels and time to tumor progression in HCC patients. Whether baseline pERK will prove to be a useful predictive biomarker of response and clinical benefits for sorafenib in HCC will need to be validated in future large prospective studies.
There are few effective therapeutic options for metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Conventional chemotherapeutic agents are ineffective since these tumors are unusually resistant to DNA damage, likely due to an exuberant DNA repair response. Sorafenib, as one of the few available effective therapeutic options for metastatic RCC, has been shown to inhibit cell proliferation by inhibition of tyrosine kinases. We have recently shown that sorafenib inhibits soluble epoxide hydrolase, which catalyzes metabolism of the anti-inflammatory epoxyeicosatrienoic acids. Given previous work demonstrating the anti-apoptotic role of p21 in RCC as a potential mechanism for its drug resistance, we asked whether sorafenib signals through this pathway. We now show that sorafenib markedly decreases p21 levels in several RCC and hepatocellular carcinoma cells. Neither the MEK inhibitor PD98059 nor the sEH inhibitor t-AUCB, which represent known sorafenib-targeted signaling pathways, alter p21 levels, demonstrating that the p21 inhibitory effect of sorafenib is independent of these signaling cascades. In cells treated with doxorubicin to augment p21, sorafenib markedly decreases this protein, and the combinations of paclitaxel or doxorubicin with sorafenib show additive cytotoxicity as a function of the VHL status of the cells, suggesting that lower doses of each agent could be used in the clinical setting. In summary, we show a novel signaling pathway by which sorafenib exerts its salutary effects in RCC; future work will focus on the use of these drug combinations in the context of conventional therapeutics, and novel compounds and protocols targeting p21 in conjunction with sorafenib should be pursued.
sorafenib; p21; kidney cancer; apoptosis; DNA damage; soluble epoxide hydrolase
Hypoglycemia is a rare paraneoplastic manifestation of patients with neoplasms. Hypoglycemia can be induced by several causes, including an aberrant increase of hypoglycemic agents and adrenal insufficiency. Sorafenib is the first agent to demonstrate a survival benefit in the treatment of advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This small molecule inhibits serine/threonine kinase RAF in tumor cells and tyrosine kinases VEGFR/PDGFR in tumor vasculature and decreases tumor growth and angiogenesis. In this paper, we report a case of HCC who was treated with sorafenib and showed severe hypoglycemia. This hypoglycemia might be induced by two causes, both adrenal insufficiency as an adverse effect of sorafenib and activation of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) signal by excessive secretion of incompletely processed precursors of IGF-II. Although the IGF signal is suggested to be involved in aberrant growth of HCC in some cases, there is no other report showing the influence of sorafenib on HCC with active IGF signal. Unfortunately, the effect of sorafenib was limited in the present case. However, emerging drugs that directly inhibit the IGF signal can be expected to be highly effective in the treatment of HCC with hypoglycemia.
IGF-II; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Sorafenib; Metabolic complications; Molecular targeting therapy; IGF signal; Hypoglycemia
We reported a relevant activity of the combination between sorafenib and octreotide long-acting release (LAR) in advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients. In this work, we have studied if oxidative stress in both serum and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and pERK activation status in PBMC could be predictive of response. In the 20 responsive patients, the decrease of reactive oxygen species levels was already detectable after 10 days (T10) from the beginning of sorafenib administration, and this effect was enhanced by the combined treatment with sorafenib+octreotide LAR (T21). This effect correlated with the modulation of superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity (physiological scavenger of O2−) and of serum nitric oxide (NO) levels. Sorafenib alone induced an increase of about 40% of NO levels and of about two-fold of SOD activity in responsive patients, and both effects were significantly potentiated by the combined treatment. We found a gradual reduction of Erk1/2 activity, as evaluated by cytofluorimetric analysis, in 15 responsive patients reaching about 50% maximal decrease at T21. On the other hand, in 17 resistant patients, Erk1/2 activity was about 80% increased at T21. The determination of both the oxidative stress status and pERK activity in PBMC has high value in the prediction of response to sorafenib+octreotide therapy in HCC patients.
Erk phosphorylation; hepatocellular carcinoma; octreotide LAR; oxidative stress; sorafenib; superoxide dismutase
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a genetically heterogeneous cancer that frequently exhibits aberrant kinase signaling. We investigated a treatment strategy combining sorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor with limited single-agent activity in AML, and cytarabine, a key component of AML chemotherapy.
Using 10 human AML cell lines, we determined the effects of sorafenib (10 μM) on antileukemic activity by measuring cell viability, proliferation, ERK1/2 signaling, and apoptosis. We also investigated the effects of sorafenib treatment on the accumulation of cytarabine and phosphorylated metabolites in vitro. A human equivalent dose of sorafenib in nontumor-bearing NOD-SCID-IL2Rγnull mice was determined by pharmacokinetic studies using high performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometric detection, and steady-state concentrations were estimated by the fit of a one-compartment pharmacokinetic model to concentration–time data. The antitumor activity of sorafenib alone (60 mg/kg) twice daily, cytarabine alone (6.25 mg/kg administered intraperitoneally), or sorafenib once or twice daily plus cytarabine was evaluated in NOD-SCID-IL2Rγnull mice bearing AML xenografts.
Sorafenib at 10 μM inhibited cell viability, proliferation and ERK1/2 signaling, and induced apoptosis in all cell lines studied. Sorafenib also increased the cellular accumulation of cytarabine and metabolites resulting in additive to synergistic antileukemic activity. A dose of 60 mg/kg in mice produced a human equivalent sorafenib steady-state plasma exposure of 10 μM. The more dose-intensive twice-daily sorafenib plus cytarabine (n = 15) statistically significantly prolonged median survival in an AML xenograft model compared with sorafenib once daily plus cytarabine (n = 12), cytarabine alone (n = 26), or controls (n = 27) (sorafenib twice daily plus cytarabine, median survival = 46 days; sorafenib once daily plus cytarabine, median survival = 40 days; cytarabine alone, median survival = 36 days; control, median survival = 19 days; P < .001 for combination twice daily vs all other treatments listed).
Sorafenib in combination with cytarabine resulted in strong anti-AML activity in vitro and in vivo. These results warrant clinical evaluation of sorafenib with cytarabine-based regimens in molecularly heterogeneous AML.