Pharmacodynamic Analysis of BTK Inhibition in Patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Treated with Acalabrutinib

Clin Cancer Res. 2020 Jun 15;26(12):2800-2809. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-19-3505. Epub 2020 Feb 13.


Purpose: To determine the pharmacodynamic relationship between target occupancy of Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) and inhibition of downstream signaling.

Patients and methods: Patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) enrolled in a phase II clinical trial (NCT02337829) with the covalent, selective BTK inhibitor acalabrutinib donated blood samples for pharmacodynamic analyses. Study design included randomization to acalabrutinib 100 mg twice daily or 200 mg once daily and dose interruptions on day 4 and 5 of the first week. BTK occupancy and readouts of intracellular signaling were assessed sequentially between 4 and 48 hours from last dose.

Results: Four hours from last dose, BTK occupancy exceeded 96% and at trough, was higher with twice daily, median 95.3%, than with once daily dosing, median 87.6% (P < 0.0001). By 48 hours from last dose, median free BTK increased to 25.6%. Due to covalent binding of acalabrutinib, free BTK is generated by de novo synthesis. The estimated rate of BTK synthesis varied widely between patients ranging from 3.6% to 31.4% per day. Acalabrutinib reduced phosphorylation of BTK and inhibited downstream B-cell receptor (BCR) and NFκB signaling. During dosing interruptions up to 48 hours, expression of BCR target genes rebounded, while phosphorylation of signaling molecules remained repressed. In vitro cross-linking of IgM on CLL cells obtained 36 to 48 hours from last dose upregulated CD69, with high correlation between cellular free BTK and response (R = 0.7, P ≤ 0.0001).

Conclusions: Higher BTK occupancy was achieved with twice daily over once daily dosing, resulting in deeper and more sustained inhibition of BCR signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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