Background: Temozolomide (TMZ) is active against glioblastomas (GBM) in which the O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) gene is silenced. However, even in responsive cases, its beneficial effect is undermined by the emergence of drug resistance. Here, we tested whether inhibition of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 and -2 (PARP) enhanced the effectiveness of TMZ.
Methods: Using patient derived brain tumor initiating cells (BTICs) and orthotopic xenografts as models of newly diagnosed and recurrent high-grade glioma, we assessed the effects of TMZ, ABT-888, and the combination of TMZ and ABT-888 on the viability of BTICs and survival of tumor-bearing mice. We also studied DNA damage repair, checkpoint protein phosphorylation, and DNA replication in mismatch repair (MMR) deficient cells treated with TMZ and TMZ plus ABT-888.
Results: Cells and xenografts derived from newly diagnosed MGMT methylated high-grade gliomas were sensitive to TMZ while those derived from unmethylated and recurrent gliomas were typically resistant. ABT-888 had no effect on the viability of BTICs or tumor bearing mice, but co-treatment with TMZ restored sensitivity in resistant cells and xenografts from newly diagnosed unmethylated gliomas and recurrent gliomas with MSH6 mutations. In contrast, the addition of ABT-888 to TMZ had little sensitizing effect on cells and xenografts derived from newly diagnosed methylated gliomas. In a model of acquired TMZ resistance mediated by loss of MMR gene MSH6, re-sensitization to TMZ by ABT-888 was accompanied by persistent DNA strand breaks, re-engagement of checkpoint kinase signaling, and interruption of DNA synthesis.
Conclusion: In laboratory models, the addition of ABT-888 to TMZ overcame resistance to TMZ.