Objectives: Inhibition of the PI3K/mTOR pathway suppresses breast cancer (BC) growth, enhances anti-tumor immune responses, and works synergistically with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI). The objective here was to identify a subclass of PI3K inhibitors that, when combined with paclitaxel, is effective in enhancing response to ICI.
Methods: C57BL/6 mice were orthotopically implanted with syngeneic luminal/triple-negative-like PyMT cells exhibiting high endogenous PI3K activity. Tumor growth in response to treatment with anti-PD-1 + anti-CTLA-4 (ICI), paclitaxel (PTX), and either the PI3Kα-specific inhibitor alpelisib, the pan-PI3K inhibitor copanlisib, or the broad spectrum PI3K/mTOR inhibitor gedatolisib was evaluated in reference to monotherapy or combinations of these therapies. Effects of these therapeutics on intratumoral immune populations were determined by multicolor FACS.
Results: Treatment with alpelisib + PTX inhibited PyMT tumor growth and increased tumor-infiltrating granulocytes but did not significantly affect the number of tumor-infiltrating CD8+ T cells and did not synergize with ICI. Copanlisib + PTX + ICI significantly inhibited PyMT growth and increased activation of intratumoral CD8+ T cells as compared to ICI alone, yet did not inhibit tumor growth more than ICI alone. In contrast, gedatolisib + ICI resulted in significantly greater inhibition of tumor growth compared to ICI alone and induced durable dendritic-cell, CD8+ T-cell, and NK-cell responses. Adding PTX to this regimen yielded complete regression in 60% of tumors.
Conclusion: PI3K/mTOR inhibition plus PTX heightens response to ICI and may provide a viable therapeutic approach for treatment of metastatic BC.
Keywords: PI3K/mTOR; breast cancer; cytotoxic T cells; immune checkpoint inhibitor.