JOURNAL ARTICLE

Dual inhibition of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase and mammalian target of rapamycin in differentiated and anaplastic thyroid cancer

Ning Jin, Tianyun Jiang, D Marc Rosen, Barry D Nelkin, Douglas W Ball
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2009, 94 (10): 4107-12
19723757

CONTEXT: Differentiated thyroid cancer and anaplastic thyroid cancer tumors frequently have activation of the ras/raf /MAPK kinase (MEK)/ERK and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI-3K)/AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathways.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to investigate the efficacy of MEK and mTOR inhibitors in preclinical thyroid cancer treatment models with defined mutation status.

EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: The MEK inhibitor AZD6244 (ARRY-142886) and mTOR inhibitor rapamycin were tested separately and in combination in 10 differentiated thyroid cancer and anaplastic thyroid cancer cell lines and in a xenograft model for evidence of pathway inhibition, growth inhibition, apoptosis, and long-range adaptation and resistance.

RESULTS: Seven of 10 tested lines had evidence of significant basal activity of the PI-3K/AKT/mTOR pathway, with elevated phosphorylated AKT and phosphorylated p70 S6 kinase. Activation of ras/RAF/MEK/ERK was equally common in this panel. All 10 lines exhibited better than 60% growth inhibition with combined MEK and mTOR inhibition, including lines with BRAF, Ret-PTC, ras, and PTEN mutations. Rapamycin or AZD6244 alone achieved this threshold in six and two lines, respectively. Dual-pathway inhibition in the Ret-PTC mutant cell line TPC1 caused an intense G(1) arrest in cell culture and reversible cytostatic inhibition in a xenograft model. We did not observe significant feedback up-regulation of AKT activation in either acute or prolonged exposures.

CONCLUSION: These preclinical results support the inclusion of thyroid cancer patients in early-phase clinical trials combining RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK and PI-3K/AKT/mTOR pathway inhibition.

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