Triple blockade of EGFR, MEK and PD-L1 has antitumor activity in colorectal cancer models with constitutive activation of MAPK signaling and PD-L1 overexpression
Background Molecular mechanisms driving acquired resistance to anti-EGFR therapies in metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) are complex but generally involve the activation of the downstream RAS-RAF-MEK-MAPK pathway. Nevertheless, even if inhibition of EGFR and MEK could be a strategy for overcoming anti-EGFR resistance, its use is limited by the development of MEK inhibitor (MEKi) resistance. Methods We have generated in vitro and in vivo different CRC models in order to underline the mechanisms of MEKi resistance. Results The three different in vitro MEKi resistant models, two generated by human CRC cells quadruple wild type for KRAS, NRAS, BRAF, PI3KCA genes (SW48-MR and LIM1215-MR) and one by human CRC cells harboring KRAS mutation (HCT116-MR) showed features related to the gene signature of colorectal cancer CMS4 with up-regulation of immune pathway as confirmed by microarray and western blot analysis. In particular, the MEKi phenotype was associated with the loss of epithelial features and acquisition of mesenchymal markers and morphology. The change in morphology was accompanied by up-regulation of PD-L1 expression and activation of EGFR and its downstream pathway, independently to RAS mutation status. To extend these in vitro findings, we have obtained mouse colon cancer MC38- and CT26-MEKi resistant syngeneic models (MC38-MR and CT26-MR). Combined treatment with MEKi, EGFR inhibitor (EGFRi) and PD-L1 inhibitor (PD-L1i) resulted in a marked inhibition of tumor growth in both models. Conclusions These results suggest a strategy to potentially improve the efficacy of MEK inhibition by co-treatment with EGFR and PD-L1 inhibitors via modulation of host immune responses.
Colorectal cancer; MEK inhibitor resistance; PD-L1 inhibitors
Napolitano S, Matrone N, Muddassir AL, Martini G, Sorokin A, De Falco V, et al. Triple blockade of EGFR, MEK and PD-L1 has antitumor activity in colorectal cancer models with constitutive activation of MAPK signaling and PD-L1 overexpression. J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2019 Dec 16;38(1):492.
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