The signaling pathways that underlie the pathogenesis of pediatric gliomas are poorly understood. We characterized the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway in pediatric gliomas of all grades. Using immunohistochemistry, we assessed activation of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway by evaluating the downstream signaling molecules phospho(p)-S6, phospho(p)-4BP1, and phospho(p)-PRAS40; PTEN; and PTEN promoter methylation, as well as the MIB labeling index. We correlated these findings with the clinical outcomes of 48 children with gliomas. Eighty percent of high-grade gliomas (12/15) showed activation of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway based on p-S6 and p-4EBP1 expression. The majority of high-grade gliomas were negative for PTEN expression (10/15), and 50% had PTEN promoter methylation (grade III: 2/4; grade IV: 3/6). Low-grade gliomas demonstrated PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway activation in 14/32 (43.8%) by p-S6 and 16/32 (50%) by p-4EBP1. Over 50% of grade I (6/11) and almost all grade II tumors (6/7) showed PTEN promoter methylation. Tumor grade correlated negatively with PTEN expression and positively with expression of p-S6 and p-4EBP1 (PTEN: P = .0025; pS6: P = .0075; p-4EBP1: P = .0066). There was a trend toward inverse correlation of methylation of the PTEN promoter with expression of PTEN protein (P= .0990) and direct correlation of expression of p-S6 and p-4EBP1 with poorer clinical outcome, as measured by progression-free survival (p-S6: P= .0874; p-4EBP1: P= .0475). Tumors with no PTEN expression had a higher MIB labeling index (P= .007). The majority of pediatric gliomas show activation of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway, with methylation of the PTEN promoter occurring commonly in these tumors.
pediatric gliomas; PI3K/Akt/mTOR; PTEN promoter methylation
To assess poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitor MK-4827 together with radiation for the treatment of neuroblastoma.
Material and Methods
Clonogenic survival assays were used to assess MK-4827, radiation and combination thereof in four neuroblastoma cell lines. In vivo efficacy was tested in a murine xenograft model of metastatic neuroblastoma. In vivo targeted inhibition and biological effects included measurement of cleaved caspase-3, gamma-H2AX, and Ki 67 by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and poly-ADP-ribose by Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay.
Treatment of neuroblastoma cell lines reduced clonogenicity and resulted in additive effects with radiation. In vivo treatment with MK-4827 and radiation prolonged survival (p<0.01) compared to single modalities. In vivo superiority of MK-4827 plus radiation was further documented by significant elevations of cleaved caspase-3 and γ-H2AX in tumors from the combination group compared to single modality cohorts.
Combination of MK-4827 and radiation might provide effective therapy for children with high-risk neuroblastoma.
To assess changes in apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) and fractional anisotropy (FA) values in brainstem gliomas in children and to observe the temporal evolution of changes in the white matter tracts following therapy using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) analysis.
Serial ADC and FA measurements were obtained in 3 patients with newly diagnosed brainstem gliomas on two approved treatment protocols. Values were compared with a set of normative ADC, FA, and eigenvalues of age-matched children of the corticospinal, transverse pontine and medial lemniscal tracts. Fiber tracking of the tracts coursing through the brainstem was performed using standard diffusion tractography analysis.
We found increased ADC values within tumor at baseline compared to age-matched controls, with subsequent drop following treatment and subsequent increase with recurrence. Correspondingly, FA values were reduced at presentation, but transiently recovered during the phase of tumor response to treatment, and finally decreased significantly during tumor progression. These changes were concordant with the tractography analysis of white matter tracts in the brainstem. Based on these results, we suggest that initial changes in ADC and FA values reflects tract infiltration by tumor, but not complete disruption, whereas tumor progression results in complete loss of anisotropy possibly due to tract disruption.
Serial changes in ADC and FA values and tractography data in pediatric brainstem gliomas suggest initial tumor infiltration, with transient improvement on treatment and subsequent loss of tract anisotropy during tumor progression. This technique may have potential use in assessing response to treatment regimens for pediatric brainstem gliomas.
MRI; diffusion tensor imaging; brainstem glioma; pediatrics
The phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (PI3K/Akt/mTOR) signaling pathway is activated in more than88% of glioblastomas (GBM). New drugs targeting this pathway are currently in clinical trials. However, noninvasive assessment of treatment response remains challenging. By using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway inhibition was monitored in 3 GBM cell lines (GS-2, GBM8, and GBM6; each with a distinct pathway activating mutation) through the measurement of 2 mechanistically linked MR biomarkers: phosphocholine (PC) and hyperpolarized lactate.31P MRS studies showed that treatment with the PI3K inhibitor LY294002 induced significant decreases in PC to 34 %± 9% of control in GS-2 cells, 48% ± 5% in GBM8, and 45% ± 4% in GBM6. The mTOR inhibitor everolimus also induced a significant decrease in PC to 62% ± 14%, 57% ± 1%, and 58% ± 1% in GS-2, GBM8, and GBM6 cells, respectively. Using hyperpolarized 13C MRS, we demonstrated that hyperpolarized lactate levels were significantly decreased following PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway inhibition in all 3 cell lines to 51% ± 10%, 62% ± 3%, and 58% ± 2% of control with LY294002 and 72% ± 3%, 61% ± 2%, and 66% ± 3% of control with everolimus in GS-2, GBM8, and GBM6 cells, respectively. These effects were mediated by decreases in the activity and expression of choline kinase α and lactate dehydrogenase, which respectively control PC and lactate production downstream of HIF-1. Treatment with the DNA damaging agent temozolomide did not have an effect on either biomarker in any cell line. This study highlights the potential of PC and hyperpolarized lactate as noninvasive MR biomarkers of response to targeted inhibitors in GBM.
glioblastoma (GBM); hyperpolarized lactate; magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS); phosphocholine (PC); PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway
Brain tumors are the most common solid pediatric malignancy. For high-grade, recurrent, or refractory pediatric brain tumors, radiation therapy (XRT) is an integral treatment modality. In the era of personalized cancer therapy, molecularly targeted agents have been designed to inhibit pathways critical to tumorigenesis. Our evolving knowledge of genetic aberrations in pediatric gliomas is being exploited with the use of specific targeted inhibitors. These agents are additionally being combined with XRT to increase the efficacy and duration of local control. In this review, we discuss novel agents targeting three different pathways in gliomas, and their potential combination with XRT. BRAF is a serine/threonine kinase in the RAS/RAF/MAPK kinase pathway, which is integral to cellular division, survival, and metabolism. Two-thirds of pilocytic astrocytomas, a low-grade pediatric glioma, contain a translocation within the BRAF gene called KIAA1549:BRAF that causes an overactivation of the MEK/MAPK signaling cascade. In vitro and in vivo data support the use of MEK or mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors in low-grade gliomas expressing this translocation. Additionally, 15–20% of high-grade pediatric gliomas express BRAF V600E, an activating mutation of the BRAF gene. Pre-clinical in vivo and in vitro data in BRAF V600E gliomas demonstrate dramatic cooperation between XRT and small molecule inhibitors of BRAF V600E. Another major signaling cascade that plays a role in pediatric glioma pathogenesis is the PI3-kinase (PI3K)/mTOR pathway, known to be upregulated in the majority of high- and low-grade pediatric gliomas. Dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitors are in clinical trials for adult high-grade gliomas and are poised to enter studies of pediatric tumors. Finally, many brain tumors express potent stimulators of angiogenesis that render them refractory to treatment. An analog of thalidomide, CC-5103 increases the secretion of critical cytokines of the tumor microenvironment, including IL-2, IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-10, and is currently being evaluated in clinical trials for the treatment of recurrent or refractory pediatric central nervous system tumors. In summary, several targeted inhibitors with radiation are currently under investigation in both translational bench research and early clinical trials. This review article summarizes the molecular rationale for, and the pre-clinical data supporting the combinations of these targeted agents with other anti-cancer agents and XRT in pediatric gliomas. In many cases, parallels are drawn to molecular mechanisms and targeted inhibitors of adult gliomas. We additionally discuss the potential mechanisms underlying the efficacy of these agents.
pediatric gliomas; low-grade glioma; BRAFV600E; PI3K/AKT/mTOR; angiogenesis inhibitors; bevacizumab; lenalidomide
To assess 18F-labeled 2-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (18F-FDG) uptake in children with a newly diagnosed diffuse intrinsic brainstem glioma (BSG) and to investigate associations with progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS) and MRI indices.
Two Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium (PBTC) therapeutic trials in children with newly diagnosed BSG were designed to test radiation therapy combined with molecularly targeted agents (PBTC-007: Phase I/II study of gefitinib; PBTC-014: Phase I/II study of tipifarnib). Baseline brain 18F-FDG PET scans were obtained in 40 children in these trials. Images were evaluated by consensus of two PET experts for intensity and uniformity of tracer uptake. Associations of 18F-FDG uptake intensity and uniformity with both PFS and OS were evaluated as well as associations with tumor MRI indices at baseline (tumor volume on FLAIR, baseline intratumoral enhancement, diffusion and perfusion values.
In the majority of children, BSG 18F-FDG uptake was less than gray matter uptake. Survival was poor irrespective of intensity of 18F-FDG uptake, with no association between intensity of 18F-FDG uptake and PFS or OS. However, hyperintense 18F-FDG uptake in tumor compared to gray matter suggested poorer survival rates. Patients with 18F-FDG uptake in ≥ 50% of the tumor had shorter PFS and OS compared to patients with 18F-FDG uptake in < 50% of tumor. There was some evidence that tumors with higher 18F-FDG uptake were more likely to show enhancement; and when the diffusion ratio was lower the uniformity of 18F- FDG uptake appeared higher.
Children with BSG where 18F-FDG uptake involves at least half the tumor appear to have inferior survival compared to children with uptake in <50% of tumor. A larger independent study is needed to verify this hypothesis. Intense tracer uptake in the tumors compared to gray matter suggests decreased survival. Higher 18F-FDG uptake within the tumor was associated with enhancement on MRI. Increased tumor cellularity as reflected by restricted MR diffusion may be associated with increased 18F-FDG uniformity throughout the tumor.
pediatric; brainstem glioma; 18F-FDG PET; MRI; diffusion; enhancement; perfusion; brain tumor
Adolescent and adult patients with neuroblastoma appear to have a more indolent disease course but a lower survival than their younger counterparts. The majority of neuroblastoma tumors specifically accumulate the radiolabeled norepinephrine analogue 131I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG). 131I-MIBG has therefore become increasingly used as targeted radiotherapy for relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma. The aim of this study was to characterize the toxicity and activity of this therapy in older patients.
We performed a retrospective analysis of 39 consecutive patients ages 10 years and older with relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma who were treated with 131I-MIBG monotherapy at UCSF under Phase I, Phase II, and compassionate access protocols.
Sixteen patients were ≥18 years old at MIBG treatment initiation, whereas twenty-three were 10–17 years old. The median cumulative administered dose of 131I-MIBG was 17.8 mCi/kg. The majority of treatments led to grade 3 or 4 hematologic toxicities which were similar in frequency among age strata. Three patients subsequently developed hematologic malignancy or myelodysplasia. The overall rate of complete plus partial response was 46%. Patients ≥18 years old at time of first MIBG treatment had a significantly higher response rate compared to patients 10–17 years old (56% vs 39%, p=0.023). Median overall survival was 23 months with a trend toward longer overall survival for the ≥18 year old subgroup (p = 0.12).
Our findings suggest that 131I-MIBG is a highly effective salvage agent for adolescents and adults with neuroblastoma.
neuroblastoma; adult; adolescent; MIBG; radiopharmaceutical
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common primary liver tumor and represents the third-leading cause of cancer-related death in the world. The incidence of HCC continues to increase worldwide, with a unique geographic, age, and sex distribution. The most important risk factor associated with HCC is liver cirrhosis, with the majority of cases caused by chronic infection with hepatitis B (HBV) and C (HCV) viruses and alcohol abuse, although nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is emerging as an increasingly important cause. Primary prevention in the form of HBV vaccination has led to a significant decrease in HBV-related HCC, and initiation of antiviral therapy appears to reduce the incidence of HCC in patients with chronic HBV or HCV infection. Additionally, the use of ultrasonography enables the early detection of small liver tumors and forms the backbone of recommended surveillance programs for patients at high risk for the development of HCC. Cross-sectional imaging studies, including computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, represent further noninvasive techniques that are increasingly employed to diagnose HCC in patients with cirrhosis. The mainstay of potentially curative therapy includes surgery – either resection or liver transplantation. However, most patients are ineligible for surgery, because of either advanced disease or underlying liver dysfunction, and are managed with locoregional and/or systemic therapies. Randomized controlled trials have demonstrated a survival benefit with both local therapies, either ablation or embolization, and systemic therapy in the form of the multikinase inhibitor sorafenib. Despite this, median survival remains poor and recurrence rates significant. Further advances in our understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of HCC hold promise in improving the diagnosis and treatment of this highly lethal cancer.
hepatocellular carcinoma; viral hepatitis; liver transplantation; ablation; embolization; sorafenib
Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibition causes transcriptional activation or repression of several genes that in turn can influence the biodistribution of other chemotherapeutic agents. Here, we hypothesize that the combination of vorinostat, a HDAC inhibitor, with 131I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) would lead to preferential accumulation of the latter in neuroblastoma (NB) tumors via increased expression of the human norepinephrine transporter (NET).
In vitro and in vivo experiments examined the effect of vorinostat on the expression of NET, an uptake transporter for 131I-MIBG. Human NB cell lines (Kelly and SH-SY-5Y) and NB1691luc mouse xenografts were employed. The upregulated NET protein was characterized for its effect on 123I-MIBG biodistribution.
Preincubation of NB cell lines, Kelly and SH-SY-5Y, with vorinostat caused dose-dependent increases in NET mRNA and protein levels. Accompanying this was a corresponding dose-dependent increase in MIBG uptake in NB cell lines. Four-fold and 2.5 fold increases were observed in Kelly and SH-SY-5Y cells, respectively, pre-treated with vorinostat in comparison to untreated cells. Similarly, NB xenografts, created by intravenous tail vein injection of NB1691-luc, and harvested from nude mice livers treated with vorinostat (150 mg/kg i.p.) showed substantial increases in NET protein expression. Maximal effect of vorinostat pretreatment in NB xenografts on 123I-MIBG biodistribution was observed in tumors that exhibited enhanced uptake in vorinostat treated (0.062 ± 0.011 μCi/(mg tissue-dose injected)) versus untreated mice (0.022 ± 0.003 μCi/(mg tissue-dose injected); p < 0.05).
The results of our study provide preclinical evidence that vorinostat treatment can enhance NB therapy with 131I-MIBG.
norepinephrine transporter; MIBG; Vorinostat; histone deacetylase inhibitor; neuroblastoma xenograft; biodistribution
We report MRI findings from 2 pediatric clinical trials of diffuse intrinsic brainstem glioma (BSG) incorporating concurrent radiation therapy (RT) with molecularly targeted agents (gefitinib and tipifarnib). We determined associations of MRI variables with progression-free survival and overall survival and investigated effects of treatment on these variables.
MRI (including diffusion and perfusion) was done before treatment, every 8 weeks (first year), every 12 weeks (thereafter), and at the end of treatment or disease progression. Reduced tumor volume (P < .0001) and tumor diffusion values (P <.0001) were apparent on the first post-RT/drug studies. Decreases in tumor volume correlated with pre-RT volume (P < .0001) and pre-RT diffusion values (P < .0001); larger decreases were noted for tumors with higher volumes and diffusion values. Patients with larger pre-RT tumors had longer progression-free survival (P < .0001). Patients with ≥25% decrease in tumor volume and diffusion values after RT had longer progression-free survival (P = .028) and overall survival (P = .0009). Enhancement at baseline and over time was significantly associated with shorter survival. Tumor diffusion values with baseline enhancement were significantly lower than those without (P = .0002).
RT of BSG is associated with decreased tumor volume and intralesional diffusion values; patients with ≥25% decrease in values post-RT had relatively longer survival intervals, apparently providing an early imaging-based surrogate for relative outcomes. Patients with larger tumors and greater decreases in tumor volume and diffusion values had longer survival intervals. Tumor enhancement was associated with shorter survival, lower tumor diffusion values (increased cellularity), and a smaller drop in diffusion values after RT (P = .006). These associations justify continued investigation in other large clinical trials of brainstem glioma patients.
Pediatric; brain tumor; brainstem glioma; MRI, radiation
Due to its molecular heterogeneity and infiltrative nature, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is notoriously resistant to traditional and experimental therapeutics. To overcome these hurdles, targeted agents have been combined with conventional therapy. We evaluated the preclinical potential of a novel, orally bioavailable PI3K/mTOR dual inhibitor (XL765) in in vitro and in vivo studies. In vivo serially passaged human GBM xenografts that are more genetically stable than GBM cell lines in culture were used for all experiments. Biochemical downstream changes were evaluated by immunoblot and cytotoxicity by colorimetric ATP-based assay. For in vivo experiments, human xenograft GBM 39 grown intracranially in nude mice was altered to express luciferase to monitor tumor burden by optical imaging. XL765 resulted in concentration-dependent decreases in cell viability in vitro. Cytotoxic doses resulted in specific inhibition of PI3K signaling. Combining XL765 with temozolomide (TMZ) resulted in additive toxicity in 4 of 5 xenografts. In vivo, XL765 administered by oral gavage resulted in greater than 12-fold reduction in median tumor bioluminescence compared with control (Mann–Whitney test p = 0.001) and improvement in median survival (logrank p = 0.05). TMZ alone showed a 30-fold decrease in median bioluminescence, but the combination XL765 + TMZ yielded a 140-fold reduction in median bioluminescence (Mann-Whitney test p = 0.05) with a trend toward improvement in median survival (logrank p = 0.09) compared with TMZ alone. XL765 shows activity as monotherapy and in combination with conventional therapeutics in a range of genetically diverse GBM xenografts.
PI3K/mTOR inhibitor; glioma; temozolomide; signaling inhibitor
We performed a phase II study to assess the efficacy and toxicity of tipifarnib, a farnesyltransferase inhibitor, administered with radiation therapy (RT) in children with newly diagnosed diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas. Children 3-21 years old with pontine gliomas (BSGs) were treated with concurrent tipifarnib and RT, followed by adjuvant tipifarnib. Tipifarnib was taken orally twice daily (125 mg/m2/dose) during RT; after RT, it was taken at 200 mg/m2 twice daily for 21 days, in 28-day cycles. Initial and follow-up neuroimaging was centrally reviewed. Forty eligible patients (median age, 5.5 years; range, 3.3–16.5 years) had a median progression-free survival of 6.8 months (range, 0.2-18.6 months) and median overall survival of 8.3 months (range, 0.2-18.6 months). Kaplan–Meier estimates (± standard error) of 1-year progression-free and overall survival were 12.9% ±4.9% and 34.3% ±7.4%, respectively. A single patient remained on tipifarnib without progression at the completion of the study, two years after initiation of treatment. Seven patients were without disease progression for at least six months, three of whom remained controlled for more than a year. The most frequent toxicity was grade 3 lymphopenia. We documented a single instance of “pseudoprogression” by neuroimaging review. We found no discordance among 3 approaches to defining disease progression: as interpreted by treating institutions (based on clinical status and/or imaging) and by central review (using bi-dimensional tumor “area” versus volumetric measurements). For children with diffuse BSGs, tipifarnib administered with irradiation offered no clinical advantage over historical controls. Biopsies and molecular analyses of pediatric BSGs are vital for identification of new agents and for rational use of targeted agents.
diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma; farnesyltransferase inhibitors; pediatric
We explored the associations of aberrant DNA methylation patterns in 12 candidate genes with adult glioma subtype, patient survival, and gene expression of enhancer of zeste human homolog 2 (EZH2) and insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 2 (IGFBP2). We analyzed 154 primary glioma tumors (37 astrocytoma II and III, 52 primary glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), 11 secondary GBM, 54 oligodendroglioma/oligoastrocytoma II and III) and 13 nonmalignant brain tissues for aberrant methylation with quantitative methylation-specific PCR (qMS-PCR) and for EZH2 and IGFBP2 expression with quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR). Global methylation was assessed by measuring long interspersed nuclear element-1 (LINE1) methylation. Unsupervised clustering analyses yielded 3 methylation patterns (classes). Class 1 (MGMT, PTEN, RASSF1A, TMS1, ZNF342, EMP3, SOCS1, RFX1) was highly methylated in 82% (75/91) of lower-grade astrocytic and oligodendroglial tumors, 73% (8/11) of secondary GBMs, and 12% (6/52) of primary GBMs. The primary GBMs in this class were early onset (median age 37 years). Class 2 (HOXA9 and SLIT2) was highly methylated in 37% (19/52) of primary GBMs. None of the 10 genes for class 3 that were differentially methylated in classes 1 and 2 were hypermethylated in 92% (12/13) of nonmalignant brain tissues and 52% (27/52) of primary GBMs. Class 1 tumors had elevated EZH2 expression but not elevated IGFBP2; class 2 tumors had both high IGFBP2 and high EZH2 expressions. The gene-specific hypermethylation class correlated with higher levels of global LINE1 methylation and longer patient survival times. These findings indicate a generalized hypermethylation phenotype in glioma linked to improved survival and low IGFBP2. DNA methylation markers are useful in characterizing distinct glioma subtypes and may hold promise for clinical applications.
glioma; DNA methylation; EZH2; Polycomb; PI3K/Akt
Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors can radiosensitize cancer cells. Radiation is critical in high-risk neuroblastoma treatment, and combinations of HDAC inhibitor vorinostat and radiation are proposed for neuroblastoma trials. Therefore, we investigated radiosensitizing effects of vorinostat in neuroblastoma. Treatment of neuroblastoma cell lines decreased cell viability and resulted in additive effects with radiation. In a murine metastatic neuroblastoma in vivo model vorinostat and radiation combinations decreased tumor volumes compared to single modality. DNA repair enzyme Ku-86 was reduced in several neuroblastoma cells treated with vorinostat. Thus, vorinostat potentiates anti-neoplastic effects of radiation in neuroblastoma possibly due to down-regulation of DNA repair enzyme Ku-86.
Metastatic neuroblastoma; Radiation; Vorinostat; DNA repair
Numerous mechanism-based anticancer drugs that target the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) signaling pathway are in clinical trials. However, assessment of response using traditional imaging methods remains a challenge, as it is often associated with tumor stasis. Here we show for the first time the efficacy of hyperpolarized 13C magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) in detecting the effect of PI3K signaling inhibition by monitoring hyperpolarized [1-13C]-lactate levels produced from hyperpolarized [1-13C]-pyruvate through lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity. Studies were performed on GS-2 glioblastoma and MDA-MB-231 breast adenocarcinoma cells. Following inhibition of signaling, hyperpolarized lactate dropped significantly to 42±12% and 76±5% in GS-2 cells treated with LY294002 and everolimus respectively and to 71±15% in MDA-MB-231 cells treated with LY294002. This correlated with a drop in LDH activity to 48±4%, 63±4% and 69±12%, and was associated with a drop in LDHA mRNA levels and LDHA and HIF-1α protein levels. Taken together the data demonstrate that hyperpolarized 13C MRS of pyruvate can be used to monitor the drop in LDHA activity and expression following reduced HIF-1α levels resulting from PI3K signal inhibition. In line with these findings, in vivo studies of GS-2 subcutaneous xenografts treated with everolimus resulted in inhibition in tumor growth, which was associated with a drop in the hyperpolarized lactate-to-pyruvate ratio. In contrast an increase in the ratio was detected in controls. This works demonstrates the potential of hyperpolarized 13C MRS for noninvasive imaging of drug target modulation by treatments that modulate PI3K signaling and HIF-1α levels.
MRS; PI3K inhibition; hyperpolarized 13C; DNP
Although the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase to Akt to mammalian target of rapamycin (PI3K-Akt-mTOR) pathway promotes survival signaling, inhibitors of PI3K and mTOR induce minimal cell death in PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted from chromosome 10 ) mutant glioma. Here, we show that the dual PI3K-mTOR inhibitor PI-103 induces autophagy in a form of glioma that is resistant to therapy. Inhibitors of autophagosome maturation cooperated with PI-103 to induce apoptosis through the mitochondrial pathway, indicating that the cellular self-digestion process of autophagy acted as a survival signal in this setting. Not all inhibitors of mTOR synergized with inhibitors of autophagy. Rapamycin delivered alone induced autophagy, yet cells survived inhibition of autophagosome maturation because of rapamycin-mediated activation of Akt. In contrast, adenosine 5′-triphosphate–competitive inhibitors of mTOR stimulated autophagy more potently than did rapamycin, with inhibition of mTOR complexes 1 and 2 contributing independently to induction of autophagy. We show that combined inhibition of PI3K and mTOR, which activates autophagy without activating Akt, cooperated with inhibition of autophagy to cause glioma cells to undergo apoptosis. Moreover, the PI3K-mTOR inhibitor NVP-BEZ235, which is in clinical use, synergized with the lysosomotropic inhibitor of autophagy, chloroquine, another agent in clinical use, to induce apoptosis in glioma xenografts in vivo, providing a therapeutic approach potentially translatable to humans.
In this study we investigated corresponding precursor and active forms of a p53 small molecule inhibitor for effect on temozolomide (TMZ) anti-tumor activity against glioblastoma (GBM), using both in vitro and in vivo experimental approaches. Results from in vitro cell viability analysis showed that the cytotoxic activity of TMZ was substantially increased when GBMs with wild-type p53 were co-treated with the active form of p53 inhibitor, and this heightened cytotoxic response was accompanied by increased PARP cleavage as well as elevated cellular phospho-H2AX. Analysis of the same series of GBMs, as intracranial xenografts in athymic mice, and administering corresponding p53 inhibitor precursor, that is converted to the active compound in vivo, yielded results consistent with the in vitro analyses: i.e., TMZ + p53 inhibitor precursor co-treatment, of three distinct wild-type p53 GBM xenografts, resulted in significant enhancement of TMZ anti-tumor effect relative to treatment with TMZ alone, as indicated by serial bioluminescence monitoring as well as survival analysis (p < 0.001 for co-treatment survival benefit in each case). Mice receiving intracranial injection with p53 null GBM showed similar survival benefit from TMZ treatment regardless of the presence or absence of p53 inhibitor precursor. In total, our results indicate that the p53 active and precursor inhibitor pair enhance TMZ cytotoxicity in vitro and in vivo, respectively, and do so in a p53-dependent manner.
glioblastoma; p53; temozolomide; xenograft
To interrogate grade II, III, and IV gliomas and characterize the critical effectors within the PI3-kinase pathway upstream and downstream of mTOR.
Tissues from 87 patients who were treated at UCSF between 1990 and 2004 were analyzed. Twenty-eight grade II, 17 grade III glioma, 26 grade IV gliomas, and 16 non-tumor brain specimens were analyzed. Protein levels were assessed by immunoblots; RNA levels were determined by polymerase chain reaction amplification. To address the multiple comparisons, first an overall analysis was done comparing the four groups using Spearman’s Correlation Coefficient. Only if this analysis was statistically significant were individual pairwise comparisons done.
Multiple comparison analyses revealed a significant correlation with grade for all variables examined, except phosphorylated-S6. Expression of phosphorylated-4E-BP1, phosphorylated-PKB/Akt, PTEN, TSC1, and TSC2 correlated with grade (P < 0.01 for all). We extended our analyses to ask whether decreases in TSC proteins levels were due to changes in mRNA levels, or due to changes in post-transcriptional alterations. We found significantly lower levels of TSC1 and TSC2 mRNA in GBMs than in grade II gliomas or non-tumor brain (P < 0.01).
Expression levels of critical signaling molecules upstream and downstream of mTOR differ between non-tumor brain and gliomas of any grade. The single variable whose expression did not differ between non-tumor brain and gliomas was phosphorylated-S6, suggesting that other protein kinases, in addition to mTOR, contribute significantly to S6 phosphorylation. mTOR provides a rational therapeutic target in gliomas of all grades, and clinical benefit may emerge as mTOR inhibitors are combined with additional agents.
Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase; Gliomas; Signal transduction; mTOR
To report long-term results for children with low-grade hypothalamic/chiasmatic gliomas treated on a phase II chemotherapy protocol. Between 1984 and 1992, 33 children with hypothalamic/chiasmatic LGGs received TPDCV chemotherapy on a phase II prospective trial. Median age was 3.0 years (range 0.3–16.2). Twelve patients (36%) underwent STRs, 14 (42%) biopsy only, and seven (21%) no surgery. Twenty patients (61%) had pathologic JPAs, nine (27%) grade II gliomas, and four (12%) no surgical sampling. Median f/u for surviving patients was 15.2 years (range 5.3–20.7); 20 of the 23 surviving patients had 14 or more years of follow-up. Fifteen-year PFS and OS were 23.4 and 71.2%, respectively. Twenty-five patients progressed, of whom 13 are NED, two are AWD, and 10 have died. All children who died were diagnosed and first treated at age three or younger. Age at diagnosis was significantly associated with relapse and survival (P = 0.004 for PFS and P = 0.037 for OS). No PFS or OS benefit was seen with STR versus biopsy/no sampling (P = 0.58 for PFS, P = 0.59 for OS). For patients with JPAs and WHO grade II tumors, the 15-year PFS was 18.8 and 22.2% (P = 0.95) and 15-year OS was 73.7 and 55.6% (P = 0.17), respectively. Upfront TPDCV for children with hypothalamic/chiasmatic LGGs resulted in 15-year OS of 71.2% and 15-year PFS of 23.4%. No survival benefit is demonstrated for greater extent of resection. Age is a significant prognostic factor for progression and survival.
Low-grade gliomas; Pediatric; Chemotherapy; Radiation; Hypothalamic/chiasmatic
We assessed the long-term outcome of patients enrolled on CCG-3891, a high-risk neuroblastoma study in which patients were randomly assigned to undergo autologous purged bone marrow transplantation (ABMT) or to receive chemotherapy, and subsequent treatment with 13-cis-retinoic acid (cis-RA).
Patients and Methods
Patients received the same induction chemotherapy, with random assignment (N = 379) to consolidation with myeloablative chemotherapy, total-body irradiation, and ABMT versus three cycles of intensive chemotherapy. Patients who completed consolidation without disease progression were randomly assigned to receive no further therapy or cis-RA for 6 months.
The event-free survival (EFS) for patients randomly assigned to ABMT was significantly higher than those randomly assigned to chemotherapy; the 5-year EFS (mean ± SE) was 30% ± 4% versus 19% ± 3%, respectively (P = .04). The 5-year EFS (42% ± 5% v 31% ± 5%) from the time of second random assignment was higher for cis-RA than for no further therapy, though it was not significant. Overall survival (OS) was significantly higher for each random assignment by a test of the log(−log(.)) transformation of the survival estimates at 5 years (P < .01). The 5-year OS from the second random assignment of patients who underwent both random assignments and who were assigned to ABMT/cis-RA was 59% ± 8%; for ABMT/no cis-RA, it was 41% ± 7%; for continuing chemotherapy/cis-RA, it was 38% ± 7%; and for chemotherapy/no cis-RA, it was 36% ± 7%.
Myeloablative therapy and autologous hematopoietic cell rescue result in significantly better 5-year EFS and OS than nonmyeloablative chemotherapy; cis-RA given after consolidation independently results in significantly improved OS.
This open-label, prospective, single-arm, phase II study combined erlotinib with radiation therapy (XRT) and temozolomide to treat glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and gliosarcoma. The objectives were to determine efficacy of this treatment as measured by survival and to explore the relationship between molecular markers and treatment response.
Patients and Methods
Sixty-five eligible adults with newly diagnosed GBM or gliosarcoma were enrolled. We intended to treat patients not currently treated with enzyme-inducing antiepileptic drugs (EIAEDs) with 100 mg/d of erlotinib during XRT and 150 mg/d after XRT. Patients receiving EIAEDs were to receive 200 mg/d of erlotinib during XRT and 300 mg/d after XRT. After XRT, the erlotinib dose was escalated until patients developed tolerable grade 2 rash or until the maximum allowed dose was reached. All patients received temozolomide during and after XRT. Molecular markers of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), EGFRvIII, phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), and methylation status of the promotor region of the MGMT gene were analyzed from tumor tissue. Survival was compared with outcomes from two historical phase II trials.
Median survival was 19.3 months in the current study and 14.1 months in the combined historical control studies, with a hazard ratio for survival (treated/control) of 0.64 (95% CI, 0.45 to 0.91). Treatment was well tolerated. There was a strong positive correlation between MGMT promotor methylation and survival, as well as an association between MGMT promotor-methylated tumors and PTEN positivity shown by immunohistochemistry with improved survival.
Patients treated with the combination of erlotinib and temozolomide during and following radiotherapy had better survival than historical controls. Additional studies are warranted.
Amplification of the gene encoding the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR) occurs commonly in glioblastoma, leading to activation of downstream kinases including phosphatidylinositol 3′-kinase (PI3K), Akt, and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Here, we show that phosphorylation of mTOR and its downstream substrate rpS6 (ribosomal protein S6) are robust biomarkers for the antiproliferative effect of EGFR inhibitors. Inhibition of EGFR signaling correlated with decreased abundance of phosphorylated mTOR (p-mTOR) and rpS6 (p-rpS6) in cells wild type for the gene encoding PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog on chromosome 10), a negative regulator of PI3K. In contrast, inhibition of EGFR signaling failed to affect p-mTOR or p-rpS6 in cells mutant for PTEN, which are resistant to EGFR inhibitors. Although the abundance of phosphorylated Akt (p-Akt) decreased in response to inhibition of EGFR signaling, Akt was dispensable for signaling between EGFR and mTOR. We identified an Akt-independent pathway linking EGFR to mTOR that was critically dependent on protein kinase C (PKC). Consistent with these observations, the abundance of EGFR generally correlated with phosphorylation of rpS6 and PKC in primary human glioblastoma tumors, and correlated poorly with phosphorylation of Akt. Inhibition of PKC led to decreased viability of glioma cells regardless of PTEN or EGFR status, suggesting that PKC inhibitors should be tested in glioma. These findings underline the importance of signaling between EGFR and mTOR in glioma, identify PKCα as essential to this network, and question the necessity of Akt as a critical intermediate coupling EGFR and mTOR in glioma.
Long-term CT follow-up studies are required in pediatric patients who have received intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) and external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) to assess vascular toxicities and to determine the exact complication rate.
To analyze with CT the effects of radiation therapy (RT) on the growth of the aorta in neuroblastoma patients.
Materials and methods
Abdominal CT scans of 31 patients with intraabdominal neuroblastoma (stage II–IV), treated with RT (20 IORT±EBRT, 11 EBRT alone), were analyzed retrospectively. The diameter of the abdominal aorta was measured before and after RT. These data were compared to normal and predicted normal aortic diameters of children, according to the model of Fitzgerald, Donaldson and Poznanski (aortic diameter in centimeters = 0.844 + 0.0599 × age in years), and to the diameters of a control group of children who had not undergone RT. Statistical analyses for the primary aims were performed using the chi-squared test, t-test, Mann-Whitney test, nonparametric Wilcoxon matched-pairs test and analysis of variance for repeated measures. Clinical files and imaging studies were evaluated for signs of late vascular complications of neuroblastoma patients who had received RT.
The mean diameter before and after RT and the growth of the aorta were significantly lower than expected in patients with neuroblastoma (P<0.05 for each) and when compared to the growth in a control group with normal and nonirradiated aortas. Among the patients who had received RT, there was no difference due to the type of RT. Seven patients from the IORT±EBRT group developed vascular complications, which included hypertension (five), middle aortic syndrome (two), death due to mesenteric ischemia (one) and critical aortic stenosis, which required aortic bypass surgery (two).
Patients with neuroblastoma who had received RT showed impaired growth of the abdominal aorta. Significant long-term vascular complications occurred in seven patients who received IORT±EBRT. Thus, CT evaluation of patients with neuroblastoma who receive RT should include not only reports of changes in tumor extension, but also documentation of perfusion, and the size and growth of the aorta and its branches over time.
Neuroblastoma; Middle aortic syndrome; Therapy complications; Intraoperative irradiation; Children
The components of therapy required for patients with INSS Stage 3 neuroblastoma and high risk features remain controversial.
A retrospective cohort design was used to determine if intensive chemoradiotherapy with purged autologous bone marrow rescue (ABMT) and/or 13-cis-retinoic acid (13-cis-RA) improved outcome for patients with high-risk neuroblastoma that was not metastatic to distant sites. We identified 72 patients with INSS Stage 3 neuroblastoma enrolled between 1991 and 1996 on the Phase III CCG 3891 randomized trial. Patients were analyzed on an intent-to-treat basis using a log-rank test.
The 5-year event-free survival (EFS) and overall survival (OS) rates for patients with Stage 3 neuroblastoma were 55 +/- 6% and 59% +/- 6%, respectively (n=72). Patients randomized to ABMT (n=20) had 5-year EFS of 65% +/- 11% and OS of 65% +/- 11% compared to 41% +/- 11 (p=0.21) and 46% +/- 11% (p=0.23) for patients randomized to CC (n=23), respectively. Patients randomized to 13-cis-RA (n=23) had 5-year EFS of 70% +/- 10% and OS of 78% +/- 9% compared to 63% +/- 12% (p=0.67) and 67% +/- 12% (p=0.55) for those receiving no further therapy (n=16), respectively. Patients randomized to both ABMT and 13-cis-RA (n=6) had a 5-year EFS of 80% ± 11% and OS of 100%.
Patients with high-risk Stage 3 neuroblastoma have an overall poor prognosis despite aggressive chemoradiotherapy. Further studies are warranted to determine if myeloablative consolidation followed by 13-cis-RA maintenance therapy statistically significantly improves outcome.
Neuroblastoma; Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant
Recent evidence suggests the Akt-mTOR pathway may play a role in development of low-grade gliomas (LGG). We sought to evaluate whether activation of this pathway correlates with survival in LGG by examining expression patterns of proteins within this pathway. Forty-five LGG tumor specimens from newly diagnosed patients were analyzed for methylation of the putative 5′-promoter region of PTEN using methylation-specific PCR as well as phosphorylation of S6 and PRAS40 and expression of PTEN protein using immunohistochemistry. Relationships between molecular markers and overall survival (OS) were assessed using Kaplan-Meier methods and exact log-rank test. Correlation between molecular markers was determined using the Mann-Whitney U and Spearman Rank Correlation tests. Eight of the 26 patients with methylated PTEN died, as compared to 1 of 19 without methylation. There was a trend towards statistical significance, with PTEN methylated patients having decreased survival (P = 0.128). Eight of 29 patients that expressed phospho-S6 died, whereas all 9 patients lacking p-S6 expression were alive at last follow-up. There was an inverse relationship between expression of phospho-S6 and survival (P = 0.029). There was a trend towards decreased survival in patients expressing phospho-PRAS40 (P = 0.077). Analyses of relationships between molecular markers demonstrated a statistically significant positive correlation between expression of p-S6(235) and p-PRAS40 (P = 0.04); expression of p-S6(240) correlated positively with PTEN methylation (P = 0.04) and negatively with PTEN expression (P = 0.03). Survival of LGG patients correlates with phosphorylation of S6 protein. This relationship supports the use of selective mTOR inhibitors in the treatment of low grade glioma.
Low grade glioma; mTOR; Rapamycin; PTEN; PRAS40