There has been increasing interest in developing cancer therapies targeting PI3K pathway nodes. Unfortunately, the number of tumor types responding to PI3K pathway inhibitors as monotherapy has been limited, since most cancer cells accumulate genetic alterations that result in the constitutive activation of a complex network of proliferation and survival signals. As such, the inhibition of a single survival/proliferation pathway or node within this broader network may be circumvented by constitutive activation (or feedback activation) of an alternative survival pathway, and thus be insufficient for inducing a clinical response. Therefore, in most tumor types, dual pathway inhibition, guided by an in-depth understanding of feedback and cross-talk between pathways, may be required to induce tumor regression. Here we present a nonclinical study exploring mutual feedback activation of MAPK and PI3K pathways. Inhibition of the PI3K pathway by MK-2206 (AKT inhibitor) or MK-8669 (mTOR inhibitor) resulted in feedback activation of MAPK pathway nodes in subsets of lung cell lines. Similarly, inhibition of the MAPK pathway by a MEK inhibitor resulted in feedback activation of the PI3K pathway. Notably, a lack of such feedback activation was associated with sensitivity to the mono inhibitors. The strength of the feedback activation correlated with changes of several receptor tyrosine kinases, suggesting them as a part of the feedback mechanism. Finally, combined inhibition of both MAPK and PI3K pathways synergistically inhibited the feedback activation of both pathways and led to improved in vitro efficacy. Taken together, our findings identify mutual feedback activation of the PI3K and MAPK pathways in response to specific inhibitors and underscore the importance of combined therapeutic approaches with inhibitors to both pathways.

Citation Format: {Authors}. {Abstract title} [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 101st Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2010 Apr 17-21; Washington, DC. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2010;70(8 Suppl):Abstract nr 4151.