Efficacy of the dual PI3K and mTOR inhibitor NVP-BEZ235 in combination with nilotinib against BCR-ABL-positive leukemia cells involves the ABL kinase domain mutation

Seiichi Okabe, Tetsuzo Tauchi, Yuko Tanaka, Toshihiko Kitahara, Shinya Kimura, Taira Maekawa, Kazuma Ohyashiki
Cancer Biology & Therapy 2014, 15 (2): 207-15
Imatinib, an ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), has shown clinical efficacy against chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). However, a substantial number of patients develop resistance to imatinib treatment due to the emergence of clones carrying mutations in the protein BCR-ABL. The phosphoinositide 3 kinase (PI3K)/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway regulates various processes, including cell proliferation, cell survival, and antiapoptosis activity. In this study, we investigated the efficacy of NVP-BEZ235, a dual PI3K and mTOR inhibitor, using BCR-ABL-positive cell lines. Treatment with NVP-BEZ235 for 48 h inhibited cell growth and induced apoptosis. The phosphorylation of the AKT kinase, eukaryotic initiation factor 4-binding protein 1 (4E-BP1), and p70 S6 kinase were decreased after NVP-BEZ235 treatment. The combination of NVP-BEZ235 with a BCR-ABL kinase inhibitor, imatinib, or nilotinib, induced a more pronounced colony growth inhibition, whereas the combination of NVP-BEZ235 and nilotinib was more effective in inducing apoptosis and reducing the phosphorylation of AKT, 4E-BP1, and S6 kinase. NVP-BEZ235 in combination with nilotinib also inhibited tumor growth in a xenograft model and inhibited the growth of primary T315I mutant cells and ponatinib-resistant cells. Taken together, these results suggest that administration of the dual PI3K and mTOR inhibitor NVP-BEZ235 may be an effective strategy against BCR-ABL mutant cells and may enhance the cytotoxic effects of nilotinib in ABL TKI-resistant BCR-ABL mutant cells.

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