Clinical response of the novel activating ALK-I1171T mutation in neuroblastoma to the ALK inhibitor ceritinib

Cold Spring Harb Mol Case Stud. 2018 Aug 1;4(4):a002550. doi: 10.1101/mcs.a002550. Print 2018 Aug.


Tumors with anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) fusion rearrangements, including non-small-cell lung cancer and anaplastic large cell lymphoma, are highly sensitive to ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), underscoring the notion that such cancers are addicted to ALK activity. Although mutations in ALK are heavily implicated in childhood neuroblastoma, response to the ALK TKI crizotinib has been disappointing. Embryonal tumors in patients with DNA repair defects such as Fanconi anemia (FA) often have a poor prognosis, because of lack of therapeutic options. Here we report a child with underlying FA and ALK mutant high-risk neuroblastoma responding strongly to precision therapy with the ALK TKI ceritinib. Conventional chemotherapy treatment caused severe, life-threatening toxicity. Genomic analysis of the initial biopsy identified germline FANCA mutations as well as a novel ALK-I1171T variant. ALK-I1171T generates a potent gain-of-function mutant, as measured in PC12 cell neurite outgrowth and NIH3T3 transformation. Pharmacological inhibition profiling of ALK-I1171T in response to various ALK TKIs identified an 11-fold improved inhibition of ALK-I1171T with ceritinib when compared with crizotinib. Immunoaffinity-coupled LC-MS/MS phosphoproteomics analysis indicated a decrease in ALK signaling in response to ceritinib. Ceritinib was therefore selected for treatment in this child. Monotherapy with ceritinib was well tolerated and resulted in normalized catecholamine markers and tumor shrinkage. After 7.5 mo treatment, the residual primary tumor shrunk, was surgically removed, and exhibited hallmarks of differentiation together with reduced Ki67 levels. Clinical follow-up after 21 mo treatment revealed complete clinical remission including all metastatic sites. Therefore, ceritinib presents a viable therapeutic option for ALK-positive neuroblastoma.

Keywords: abnormality of the enteric ganglia; anaplastic large-cell lymphoma; neuroblastoma.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Adolescent
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase / genetics
  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics
  • Fanconi Anemia / complications
  • Fanconi Anemia / genetics
  • Fanconi Anemia Complementation Group A Protein / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Neuroblastoma / complications
  • Neuroblastoma / drug therapy*
  • Neuroblastoma / genetics
  • PC12 Cells
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Pyrimidines / therapeutic use*
  • Rats
  • Sulfones / therapeutic use*


  • FANCA protein, human
  • Fanconi Anemia Complementation Group A Protein
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Pyrimidines
  • Sulfones
  • ALK protein, human
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase
  • ceritinib