Purpose: Endocrine therapy, using tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor, remains first-line therapy for the management of estrogen receptor (ESR1)-positive breast cancer. However, ESR1 mutations or other ligand-independent ESR1 activation mechanisms limit the duration of response. The clinical efficacy of fulvestrant, a selective estrogen receptor downregulator (SERD) that competitively inhibits agonist binding to ESR1 and triggers receptor downregulation, has confirmed that ESR1 frequently remains engaged in endocrine therapy-resistant cancers. We evaluated the activity of a new class of selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERM)/SERD hybrids (SSH) that downregulate ESR1 in relevant models of endocrine-resistant breast cancer. Building on the observation that concurrent inhibition of ESR1 and the cyclin-dependent kinases 4 and 6 (CDK4/6) significantly increased progression-free survival in advanced patients, we explored the activity of different SERD- or SSH-CDK4/6 inhibitor combinations in models of endocrine therapy-resistant ESR1(+) breast cancer.
Experimental design: SERDs, SSHs, and the CDK4/6 inhibitor palbociclib were evaluated as single agents or in combination in established cellular and animal models of endocrine therapy-resistant ESR1(+) breast cancer.
Results: The combination of palbociclib with a SERD or an SSH was shown to effectively inhibit the growth of MCF7 cell or ESR1-mutant patient-derived tumor xenografts. In tamoxifen-resistant MCF7 xenografts, the palbociclib/SERD or SSH combination resulted in an increased duration of response as compared with either drug alone.
Conclusions: A SERD- or SSH-palbociclib combination has therapeutic potential in breast tumors resistant to endocrine therapies or those expressing ESR1 mutations. See related commentary by DeMichele and Chodosh, p. 4999.
©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.