Publications by authors named "Federica Capozzi"

6 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Pazopanib and Trametinib as a Synergistic Strategy against Osteosarcoma: Preclinical Activity and Molecular Insights.

Cancers (Basel) 2020 Jun 10;12(6). Epub 2020 Jun 10.

Division of Medical Oncology, Candiolo Cancer Institute, FPO-IRCCS, Str. Prov. 142 km 3.95, 10060 Candiolo (TO), Italy.

Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) inhibitors' activity in advanced osteosarcoma is significant but short-lived. To prevent or at least delay drug resistance, we explored a vertical inhibition by combining drugs acting at different levels of the RTK pathways (pazopanib + trametinib). We studied pazopanib + trametinib antitumor activity both in vitro and in vivo (MNNG-HOS and KHOS xenografts in NOD/SCID mice) investigating the molecular mechanisms and potential escapes. The involvement of MAPK-PI3K pathways was validated by Nanostring technology, western blot and by silencing/overexpression experiments. Pazopanib targets were expressed on seven osteosarcoma cell lines and their pathways were activated. Pazopanib + trametinib exhibited synergistic antitumor activity by inducing apoptosis and inhibiting ERK1/2 and Akt. In vivo antitumor activity was shown in osteosarcoma-bearing mice. The drug combination significantly down-modulated RTK Ephrin Type-A Receptor 2 (EphA2) and Interleukin-7 Receptor (IL-7R), whereas induced mitogen-activated protein-kinase kinase (MAPKK) MEK6. EphA2 silencing significantly reduced osteosarcoma cell proliferation and migration, while impeding MEK6 up-regulation in the treated cells significantly increased the antitumor effect of the studied drugs. Moreover, the up-regulation of MEK6 reduced combination activity. Pazopanib + trametinib demonstrated synergistic antitumor effects in osteosarcoma models through ERK and Akt inhibition and EphA2 and IL-7R down-modulation. MEK6 up-regulation might evoke escaping mechanism.
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June 2020

Cytokine Induced Killer cells are effective against sarcoma cancer stem cells spared by chemotherapy and target therapy.

Oncoimmunology 2018;7(11):e1465161. Epub 2018 Aug 6.

Medical Oncology Division, Candiolo Cancer Institute, FPO-IRCCS. Str. Prov. 142, km 3.95, I-10060, Candiolo (To), Italy.

Metastatic bone and soft tissue sarcomas often relapse after chemotherapy (CHT) and molecular targeted therapy (mTT), maintaining a severe prognosis. A subset of sarcoma cancer stem cells (sCSC) is hypothesized to resist conventional drugs and sustain disease relapses. We investigated the immunotherapy activity of cytokine induced killer cells (CIK) against autologous sCSC that survived CHT and mTT. The experimental platform included two aggressive bone and soft tissue sarcoma models: osteosarcoma (OS) and undifferentiated-pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS). To visualize putative sCSC we engineered patient-derived sarcoma cultures (2 OS and 3 UPS) with a lentiviral sCSC-detector wherein the promoter of stem-gene Oct4 controls the expression of eGFP. We visualized a fraction of sCSC (mean 24.2 ± 5.2%) and confirmed their tumorigenicity . sCSC resulted relatively resistant to both CHT and mTT . Therapeutic doses of doxorubicin significantly enriched viable eGFPsCSC in both OS (2.6 fold, n = 16) and UPS (2.3 fold, n = 29) compared to untreated controls. Treatment with sorafenib (for OS) and pazopanib (for UPS) also determined enrichment (1.3 fold) of viable eGFPsCSC, even if less intense than what observed after CHT. Sarcoma cells surviving CHT and mTT were efficiently killed by autologous CIK even at minimal effector/target ratios (40:1 = 82%, 1:4 = 29%, n = 13). CIK immunotherapy did not spare sCSC that were killed as efficiently as whole sarcoma cell population. The relative chemo-resistance of sCSC and sensitivity to CIK immunotherapy was confirmed . Our findings support CIK as an innovative, clinically explorable, approach to eradicate chemo-resistant sCSC implicated in tumor relapse.
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August 2018

PARP1 expression drives the synergistic antitumor activity of trabectedin and PARP1 inhibitors in sarcoma preclinical models.

Mol Cancer 2017 04 28;16(1):86. Epub 2017 Apr 28.

Sarcoma Unit, Medical Oncology, Candiolo Cancer Institute - FPO, IRCCS, Candiolo, Torino, Italy.

Background: Enhancing the antitumor activity of the DNA-damaging drugs is an attractive strategy to improve current treatment options. Trabectedin is an isoquinoline alkylating agent with a peculiar mechanism of action. It binds to minor groove of DNA inducing single- and double-strand-breaks. These kinds of damage lead to the activation of PARP1, a first-line enzyme in DNA-damage response pathways. We hypothesized that PARP1 targeting could perpetuate trabectedin-induced DNA damage in tumor cells leading finally to cell death.

Methods: We investigated trabectedin and PARP1 inhibitor synergism in several tumor histotypes both in vitro and in vivo (subcutaneous and orthotopic tumor xenografts in mice). We searched for key determinants of drug synergism by comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) and gene expression profiling (GEP) and validated their functional role.

Results: Trabectedin activated PARP1 enzyme and the combination with PARP1 inhibitors potentiated DNA damage, cell cycle arrest at G2/M checkpoint and apoptosis, if compared to single agents. Olaparib was the most active PARP1 inhibitor to combine with trabectedin and we confirmed the antitumor and antimetastatic activity of trabectedin/olaparib combination in mice models. However, we observed different degree of trabectedin/olaparib synergism among different cell lines. Namely, in DMR leiomyosarcoma models the combination was significantly more active than single agents, while in SJSA-1 osteosarcoma models no further advantage was obtained if compared to trabectedin alone. aCGH and GEP revealed that key components of DNA-repair pathways were involved in trabectedin/olaparib synergism. In particular, PARP1 expression dictated the degree of the synergism. Indeed, trabectedin/olaparib synergism was increased after PARP1 overexpression and reduced after PARP1 silencing.

Conclusions: PARP1 inhibition potentiated trabectedin activity in a PARP1-dependent manner and PARP1 expression in tumor cells might be a useful predictive biomarker that deserves clinical evaluation.
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April 2017

The combination of sorafenib and everolimus shows antitumor activity in preclinical models of malignant pleural mesothelioma.

BMC Cancer 2015 May 8;15:374. Epub 2015 May 8.

Department of Molecular Medicine, - Section of Pneumology, Laboratory of Biochemistry & Genetics, University and Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, Pavia, 27100, Italy.

Background: Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM) is an aggressive tumor arising from mesothelial cells lining the pleural cavities characterized by resistance to standard therapies. Most of the molecular steps responsible for pleural transformation remain unclear; however, several growth factor signaling cascades are known to be altered during MPM onset and progression. Transducers of these pathways, such as PIK3CA-mTOR-AKT, MAPK, and ezrin/radixin/moesin (ERM) could therefore be exploited as possible targets for pharmacological intervention. This study aimed to identify 'druggable' pathways in MPM and to formulate a targeted approach based on the use of commercially available molecules, such as the multikinase inhibitor sorafenib and the mTOR inhibitor everolimus.

Methods: We planned a triple approach based on: i) analysis of immunophenotypes and mutational profiles in a cohort of thoracoscopic MPM samples, ii) in vitro pharmacological assays, ii) in vivo therapeutic approaches on MPM xenografts. No mutations were found in 'hot spot' regions of the mTOR upstream genes (e.g. EGFR, KRAS and PIK3CA).

Results: Phosphorylated mTOR and ERM were specifically overexpressed in the analyzed MPM samples. Sorafenib and everolimus combination was effective in mTOR and ERM blockade; exerted synergistic effects on the inhibition of MPM cell proliferation; triggered ROS production and consequent AMPK-p38 mediated-apoptosis. The antitumor activity was displayed when orally administered to MPM-bearing NOD/SCID mice.

Conclusions: ERM and mTOR pathways are activated in MPM and 'druggable' by a combination of sorafenib and everolimus. Combination therapy is a promising therapeutic strategy against MPM.
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May 2015

Sorafenib and everolimus for patients with unresectable high-grade osteosarcoma progressing after standard treatment: a non-randomised phase 2 clinical trial.

Lancet Oncol 2015 Jan 11;16(1):98-107. Epub 2014 Dec 11.

Medical Oncology, Candiolo Cancer Institute-FPO, IRCCS, Candiolo, Italy; Department of Oncology, University of Torino, Turin, Italy.

Background: Results of previous study showed promising but short-lived activity of sorafenib in the treatment of patients with unresectable advanced and metastatic osteosarcoma. This treatment failure has been attributed to the mTOR pathway and might therefore be overcome with the addition of mTOR inhibitors. We aimed to investigate the activity of sorafenib in combination with everolimus in patients with inoperable high-grade osteosarcoma progressing after standard treatment.

Methods: We did this non-randomised phase 2 trial in three Italian Sarcoma Group centres. We enrolled adults (≥18 years) with relapsed or unresectable osteosarcoma progressing after standard treatment (methotrexate, cisplatin, and doxorubicin, with or without ifosfamide). Patients received 800 mg sorafenib plus 5 mg everolimus once a day until disease progression or unacceptable toxic effects. The primary endpoint was 6 month progression-free survival (PFS). All analyses were intention-to-treat. This trial is registered with, number NCT01804374.

Findings: We enrolled 38 patients between June 16, 2011, and June 4, 2013. 17 (45%; 95% CI 28-61) of 38 patients were progression free at 6 months. Toxic effects led to dose reductions, or short interruptions, or both in 25 (66%) of 38 patients and permanent discontinuation for two (5%) patients. The most common grade 3-4 adverse events were lymphopenia and hypophosphataemia each in six (16%) patients, hand and foot syndrome in five (13%), thrombocytopenia in four (11%), and fatigue, oral mucositis, diarrhoea, and anaemia each in two (5%). One patient (3%) had a grade 3 pneumothorax that required trans-thoracic drainage, and that recurred at the time of disease progression. This was reported as a serious adverse event related to the study drugs in both instances. No other serious adverse events were reported during the trial. There were no treatment-related deaths.

Interpretation: Although the combination of sorafenib and everolimus showed activity as a further-line treatment for patients with advanced or unresectable osteosarcoma, it did not attain the prespecified target of 6 month PFS of 50% or greater.

Funding: Italian Sarcoma Group.
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January 2015

The Combination of Sorafenib and Everolimus Abrogates mTORC1 and mTORC2 upregulation in osteosarcoma preclinical models.

Clin Cancer Res 2013 Apr 22;19(8):2117-31. Epub 2013 Feb 22.

Sarcoma Group, Fondazione del Piemonte per l'Oncologia, Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment at Candiolo, Torino, Italy.

Purpose: The multikinase inhibitor sorafenib displays antitumor activity in preclinical models of osteosarcoma. However, in sorafenib-treated patients with metastatic-relapsed osteosarcoma, disease stabilization and tumor shrinkage were short-lived and drug resistance occurred. We explored the sorafenib treatment escape mechanisms to overcome their drawbacks.

Experimental Design: Immunoprecipitation, Western blotting, and immunohistochemistry were used to analyze the mTOR pathway [mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) and mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2)]. Cell viability, colony growth, and cell migration were evaluated in different osteosarcoma cell lines (MNNG-HOS, HOS, KHOS/NP, MG63, U-2OS, SJSA-1, and SAOS-2) after scalar dose treatment with sorafenib (10-0.625 μmol/L), rapamycin-analog everolimus (100-6.25 nmol/L), and combinations of the two. Cell cycle, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and apoptosis were assessed by flow cytometry. Nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficient (NOD/SCID) mice injected with MNNG-HOS cells were used to determine antitumor and antimetastatic effects. Angiogenesis and vascularization were evaluated in vitro by exploiting endothelial branching morphogenesis assays and in vivo in xenografted mice and chorioallantoic membranes.

Results: After sorafenib treatment, mTORC1 signaling was reduced (downstream target P-S6), whereas mTORC2 was increased (phospho-mTOR Ser2481) in MNNG-HOS xenografts compared with vehicle-treated mice. Combining sorafenib with everolimus resulted in complete abrogation of both mTORC1 [through ROS-mediated AMP-activated kinase (AMPK) activation] and mTORC2 (through complex disassembly). The sorafenib/everolimus combination yielded: (i) enhanced antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects, (ii) impaired tumor growth, (iii) potentiated antiangiogenesis, and (iv) reduced migratory and metastatic potential.

Conclusion: mTORC2 activation is an escape mechanism from sorafenib treatment. When sorafenib is combined with everolimus, its antitumor activity is increased by complete inhibition of the mTOR pathway in the preclinical setting.
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April 2013