Purpose: The presence of an ALK aberration correlates with inferior survival for patients with high-risk neuroblastoma. The emergence of ALK inhibitors such as crizotinib has provided novel treatment opportunities. However, certain ALK mutations result in de novo crizotinib resistance, and a phase I trial of crizotinib showed a lack of response in patients harboring those ALK mutations. Thus, understanding mechanisms of resistance and defining circumvention strategies for the clinic is critical.
Experimental design: The sensitivity of human neuroblastoma-derived cell lines, cell line-derived, and patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models with varying ALK statuses to crizotinib combined with topotecan and cyclophosphamide (topo/cyclo) was examined. Cultured cells and xenografts were evaluated for effects of these drugs on proliferation, signaling, and cell death, and assessment of synergy.
Results: In neuroblastoma murine xenografts harboring the most common ALK mutations, including those mutations associated with resistance to crizotinib (but not in those with wild-type ALK), crizotinib combined with topo/cyclo enhanced tumor responses and mouse event-free survival. Crizotinib + topo/cyclo showed synergistic cytotoxicity and higher caspase-dependent apoptosis than crizotinib or topo/cyclo alone in neuroblastoma cell lines with ALK aberrations (mutation or amplification).
Conclusions: Combining crizotinib with chemotherapeutic agents commonly used in treating newly diagnosed patients with high-risk neuroblastoma restores sensitivity in preclinical models harboring both sensitive ALK aberrations and de novo-resistant ALK mutations. These data support clinical testing of crizotinib and conventional chemotherapy with the goal of integrating ALK inhibition into multiagent therapy for ALK-aberrant neuroblastoma patients.
©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.