Background: Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) facilitates DNA repair and PARP inhibitors may potentiate the effect of DNA-damaging chemotherapeutic agents in patients with cancer. Collection of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) as a surrogate tissue to monitor PARP inhibitor pharmacodynamic effects has several advantages over tumor biopsy collection, including minimally invasive sample collection and the ability to collect multiple samples for longitudinal assessment of drug effect.
Methodology/principal findings: Using our previously validated immunoassay for measuring poly(ADP-ribose) (PAR), a product of PARP, in tumor biopsies, we validated a method to quantify PAR levels in PBMCs to monitor the pharmacodynamic effects of the PARP inhibitor ABT-888 in clinical trials. The inter-individual variation in PAR levels was large. No significant difference (P = 0.67) was measured between median baseline PAR levels in 144 healthy volunteers (131.7 pg/1×10(7) PBMCs [interquartile range, 79.5-241.6]) and 49 patients with cancer (149.2 pg/1×10(7) PBMCs [interquartile range, 83.2-249.3]). In addition, PAR levels monitored in healthy volunteers over 3 weeks had considerable intra- and inter-individual variation (range, 44-1073 pg PAR/1×10(7) PBMCs). As a pharmacodynamic model, we quantified changes in PAR levels in human PBMCs treated ex vivo with clinically relevant concentrations of ABT-888. Of 40 healthy volunteer PBMC samples treated with ABT-888, 47.5% had greater than 50% PAR reduction compared to vehicle-treated controls. Considerable inter-sample heterogeneity in PAR levels was measured, and several ABT-888-insensitive samples were identified.
Conclusions/significance: Our results emphasize the importance of using a validated method to measure PAR levels, and support further investigation into the role of PARP in PBMCs. To this end, the PAR immunoassay has been validated for use with PBMCs and incorporated into clinical trials to assess PBMCs as a potential pharmacodynamic surrogate for tumor biopsies in clinical trials of PARP inhibitors.