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      A phase I/II trial of hydroxychloroquine in conjunction with radiation therapy and concurrent and adjuvant temozolomide in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme

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          Preclinical studies indicate autophagy inhibition with hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) can augment the efficacy of DNA-damaging therapy. The primary objective of this trial was to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and efficacy of HCQ in combination with radiation therapy (RT) and temozolomide (TMZ) for newly diagnosed glioblastoma (GB). A 3 + 3 phase I trial design followed by a noncomparative phase II study was conducted in GB patients after initial resection. Patients received HCQ (200 to 800 mg oral daily) with RT and concurrent and adjuvant TMZ. Quantitative electron microscopy and immunoblotting were used to assess changes in autophagic vacuoles (AVs) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Population pharmacokinetic (PK) modeling enabled PK-pharmacodynamic correlations. Sixteen phase I subjects were evaluable for dose-limiting toxicities. At 800 mg HCQ/d, 3/3 subjects experienced Grade 3 and 4 neutropenia and thrombocytopenia, 1 with sepsis. HCQ 600 mg/d was found to be the MTD in this combination. The phase II cohort (n = 76) had a median survival of 15.6 mos with survival rates at 12, 18, and 24 mo of 70%, 36%, and 25%. PK analysis indicated dose-proportional exposure for HCQ. Significant therapy-associated increases in AV and LC3-II were observed in PBMC and correlated with higher HCQ exposure. These data establish that autophagy inhibition is achievable with HCQ, but dose-limiting toxicity prevented escalation to higher doses of HCQ. At HCQ 600 mg/d, autophagy inhibition was not consistently achieved in patients treated with this regimen, and no significant improvement in overall survival was observed. Therefore, a definitive test of the role of autophagy inhibition in the adjuvant setting for glioma patients awaits the development of lower-toxicity compounds that can achieve more consistent inhibition of autophagy than HCQ.

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          The coordinate regulation of the p53 and mTOR pathways in cells.

          Cell growth and proliferation requires an intricate coordination between the stimulatory signals arising from nutrients and growth factors and the inhibitory signals arising from intracellular and extracellular stresses. Alteration of the coordination often causes cancer. In mammals, the mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) protein kinase is the central node in nutrient and growth factor signaling, and p53 plays a critical role in sensing genotoxic and other stresses. The results presented here demonstrate that activation of p53 inhibits mTOR activity and regulates its downstream targets, including autophagy, a tumor suppression process. Moreover, the mechanisms by which p53 regulates mTOR involves AMP kinase activation and requires the tuberous sclerosis (TSC) 1/TSC2 complex, both of which respond to energy deprivation in cells. In addition, glucose starvation not only signals to shut down mTOR, but also results in the transient phosphorylation of the p53 protein. Thus, p53 and mTOR signaling machineries can cross-talk and coordinately regulate cell growth, proliferation, and death.
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            Role of autophagy in temozolomide-induced cytotoxicity for malignant glioma cells.

            Autophagy is originally named as a process of protein recycling. It begins with sequestering cytoplasmic organelles in a membrane vacuole called autophagosome. Autophagosomes then fuse with lysosomes, where the materials inside are degraded and recycled. To date, however, little is known about the role of autophagy in cancer therapy. In this study, we present that temozolomide (TMZ), a new alkylating agent, inhibited the viability of malignant glioma cells in a dose-dependent manner and induced G2/M arrest. At a clinically achievable dose (100 microM), TMZ induced autophagy, but not apoptosis in malignant glioma cells. After the treatment with TMZ, microtubule-associated protein light-chain 3 (LC3), a mammalian homologue of Apg8p/Aut7p essential for amino-acid starvation-induced autophagy in yeast, was recruited on autophagosome membranes. When autophagy was prevented at an early stage by 3-methyladenine, a phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate kinase inhibitor, not only the characteristic pattern of LC3 localization, but also the antitumor effect of TMZ was suppressed. On the other hand, bafilomycin A1, a specific inhibitor of vacuolar type H(+)-ATPase, that prevents autophagy at a late stage by inhibiting fusion between autophagosomes and lysosomes, sensitized tumor cells to TMZ by inducing apoptosis through activation of caspase-3 with mitochondrial and lysosomal membrane permeabilization, while LC3 localization pattern stayed the same. These results indicate that TMZ induces autophagy in malignant glioma cells. Application of an autophagy inhibitor that works after the association of LC3 with autophagosome membrane, such as bafilomycin A1, is expected to enhance the cytotoxicity of TMZ for malignant gliomas.
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              Combined MTOR and autophagy inhibition

              The combination of temsirolimus (TEM), an MTOR inhibitor, and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), an autophagy inhibitor, augments cell death in preclinical models. This phase 1 dose-escalation study evaluated the maximum tolerated dose (MTD), safety, preliminary activity, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of HCQ in combination with TEM in cancer patients. In the dose escalation portion, 27 patients with advanced solid malignancies were enrolled, followed by a cohort expansion at the top dose level in 12 patients with metastatic melanoma. The combination of HCQ and TEM was well tolerated, and grade 3 or 4 toxicity was limited to anorexia (7%), fatigue (7%), and nausea (7%). An MTD was not reached for HCQ, and the recommended phase II dose was HCQ 600 mg twice daily in combination with TEM 25 mg weekly. Other common grade 1 or 2 toxicities included fatigue, anorexia, nausea, stomatitis, rash, and weight loss. No responses were observed; however, 14/21 (67%) patients in the dose escalation and 14/19 (74%) patients with melanoma achieved stable disease. The median progression-free survival in 13 melanoma patients treated with HCQ 1200mg/d in combination with TEM was 3.5 mo. Novel 18-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) measurements predicted clinical outcome and provided further evidence that the addition of HCQ to TEM produced metabolic stress on tumors in patients that experienced clinical benefit. Pharmacodynamic evidence of autophagy inhibition was evident in serial PBMC and tumor biopsies only in patients treated with 1200 mg daily HCQ. This study indicates that TEM and HCQ is safe and tolerable, modulates autophagy in patients, and has significant antitumor activity. Further studies combining MTOR and autophagy inhibitors in cancer patients are warranted.

                Author and article information

                Landes Bioscience
                01 August 2014
                20 May 2014
                01 August 2015
                : 10
                : 8
                : 1359-1368
                [1 ]Adult Brain Tumor Consortium
                [2 ]Department of Neurology; University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, PA USA
                [3 ]Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center; Johns Hopkins University; Baltimore, MD USA
                [4 ]Massachusetts General Hospital; Harvard Medical School; Boston, MA USA
                [5 ]H Lee Moffitt Cancer Center Department of Neurosurgery; Tampa, FL USA
                [6 ]Henry Ford Hospital Hermelin Brain Tumor Center/Neurology; Detroit, MI USA
                [7 ]Division of Hematology-Oncology; Department of Medicine; Perelman School of Medicine; Philadelphia, PA USA
                [8 ]Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics; University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, PA USA
                [9 ]Department of Mathematics, Physics, and Statistics; University of the Sciences
                [10 ]Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, PA USA
                [11 ]Philadelphia College of Pharmacy; University of the Sciences; Philadelphia, PA USA
                Author notes

                Current affiliation: Boston University; Boston, MA USA

                [* ]Correspondence to: Ravi K Amaravadi, Email: Ravi.amaravadi@
                2013AUTO0736R2 28984
                Copyright © 2014 Landes Bioscience

                This is an open-access article licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. The article may be redistributed, reproduced, and reused for non-commercial purposes, provided the original source is properly cited.

                Clinical Research Paper

                Molecular biology

                hydroxychloroquine, autophagy, glioblastoma


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