Impact of dual mTORC1/2 mTOR kinase inhibitor AZD8055 on acquired endocrine resistance in breast cancer in vitro

Nicola J Jordan, Carol M Dutkowski, Denise Barrow, Huw J Mottram, Iain R Hutcheson, Robert I Nicholson, Sylvie M Guichard, Julia M W Gee
Breast Cancer Research: BCR 2014 January 23, 16 (1): R12

INTRODUCTION: Upregulation of PI3K/Akt/mTOR signalling in endocrine-resistant breast cancer (BC) has identified mTOR as an attractive target alongside anti-hormones to control resistance. RAD001 (everolimus/Afinitor®), an allosteric mTOR inhibitor, is proving valuable in this setting; however, some patients are inherently refractory or relapse during treatment requiring alternative strategies. Here we evaluate the potential for novel dual mTORC1/2 mTOR kinase inhibitors, exemplified by AZD8055, by comparison with RAD001 in ER + endocrine resistant BC cells.

METHODS: In vitro models of tamoxifen (TamR) or oestrogen deprivation resistance (MCF7-X) were treated with RAD001 or AZD8055 alone or combined with anti-hormone fulvestrant. Endpoints included growth, cell proliferation (Ki67), viability and migration, with PI3K/AKT/mTOR signalling impact monitored by Western blotting. Potential ER cross-talk was investigated by immunocytochemistry and RT-PCR.

RESULTS: RAD001 was a poor growth inhibitor of MCF7-derived TamR and MCF7-X cells (IC50 ≥1 μM), rapidly inhibiting mTORC1 but not mTORC2/AKT signalling. In contrast AZD8055, which rapidly inhibited both mTORC1 and mTORC2/AKT activity, was a highly effective (P <0.001) growth inhibitor of TamR (IC50 18 nM) and MCF7-X (IC50 24 nM), and of a further T47D-derived tamoxifen resistant model T47D-tamR (IC50 19 nM). AZD8055 significantly (P <0.05) inhibited resistant cell proliferation, increased cell death and reduced migration. Furthermore, dual treatment of TamR or MCF7-X cells with AZD8055 plus fulvestrant provided superior control of resistant growth versus either agent alone (P <0.05). Co-treating with AZD8055 alongside tamoxifen (P <0.01) or oestrogen deprivation (P <0.05) also effectively inhibited endocrine responsive MCF-7 cells. Although AZD8055 inhibited oestrogen receptor (ER) ser167 phosphorylation in TamR and MCF7-X, it had no effect on ER ser118 activity or expression of several ER-regulated genes, suggesting the mTOR kinase inhibitor impact was largely ER-independent. The capacity of AZD8055 for ER-independent activity was further evidenced by growth inhibition (IC5018 and 20 nM) of two acquired fulvestrant resistant models lacking ER.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first report demonstrating dual mTORC1/2 mTOR kinase inhibitors have potential to control acquired endocrine resistant BC, even under conditions where everolimus fails. Such inhibitors may prove of particular benefit when used alongside anti-hormonal treatment as second-line therapy in endocrine resistant disease, and also potentially alongside anti-hormones during the earlier endocrine responsive phase to hinder development of resistance.

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