Clin Cancer Res 2019 03 22;25(5):1664-1675. Epub 2018 Oct 22.
VCU Philips Institute, School of Dentistry and Massey Cancer Center; Richmond, Virginia.
Purpose: It was recently demonstrated that the translocation contributes to the hypersensitivity of Ewing sarcoma to PARP inhibitors, prompting clinical evaluation of olaparib in a cohort of heavily pretreated Ewing sarcoma tumors. Unfortunately, olaparib activity was disappointing, suggesting an underappreciated resistance mechanism to PARP inhibition in patients with Ewing sarcoma. We sought to elucidate the resistance factors to PARP inhibitor therapy in Ewing sarcoma and identify a rational drug combination capable of rescuing PARP inhibitor activity.
Experimental Design: We employed a pair of cell lines derived from the same patient with Ewing sarcoma prior to and following chemotherapy, a panel of Ewing sarcoma cell lines, and several patient-derived xenograft (PDX) and cell line xenograft models.
Results: We found olaparib sensitivity was diminished following chemotherapy. The matched cell line pair revealed increased expression of the antiapoptotic protein BCL-2 in the chemotherapy-resistant cells, conferring apoptotic resistance to olaparib. Resistance to olaparib was maintained in this chemotherapy-resistant model , whereas the addition of the BCL-2/X inhibitor navitoclax led to tumor growth inhibition. In 2 PDXs, olaparib and navitoclax were minimally effective as monotherapy, yet induced dramatic tumor growth inhibition when dosed in combination. We found that EWS-FLI1 increases BCL-2 expression; however, inhibition of BCL-2 alone by venetoclax is insufficient to sensitize Ewing sarcoma cells to olaparib, revealing a dual necessity for BCL-2 and BCL-X in Ewing sarcoma survival.
Conclusions: These data reveal BCL-2 and BCL-X act together to drive olaparib resistance in Ewing sarcoma and reveal a novel, rational combination therapy that may be put forward for clinical trial testing.