Mechanisms of Resistance to Imatinib and Second-Generation Tyrosine Inhibitors in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

Clin Cancer Res. 2009 Dec 15;15(24):7519-7527. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-09-1068.


Targeted therapy in the form of selective tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) has transformed the approach to management of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and dramatically improved patient outcome to the extent that imatinib is currently accepted as the first-line agent for nearly all patients presenting with CML, regardless of the phase of the disease. Impressive clinical responses are obtained in the majority of patients in chronic phase; however, not all patients experience an optimal response to imatinib, and furthermore, the clinical response in a number of patients will not be sustained. The process by which the leukemic cells prove resistant to TKIs and the restoration of BCR-ABL1 signal transduction from previous inhibition has initiated the pursuit for the causal mechanisms of resistance and strategies by which to surmount resistance to therapeutic intervention. ABL kinase domain mutations have been extensively implicated in the pathogenesis of TKI resistance, however, it is increasingly evident that the presence of mutations does not explain all cases of resistance and does not account for the failure of TKIs to eliminate minimal residual disease in patients who respond optimally. The focus of exploring TKI resistance has expanded to include the mechanism by which the drug is delivered to its target and the impact of drug influx and efflux proteins on TKI bioavailability. The limitations of imatinib have inspired the development of second generation TKIs in order to overcome the effect of resistance to this primary therapy. (Clin Cancer Res 2009;15(24):7519-27).