ERK1/2 is a key protein in the MAPK pathway, regulating phenotypes such as proliferation and migration. Upstream mutations (e.g., KRAS mutations in non-small-cell lung (NSCLC)) can cause the pathway to become constitutively activated, driving tumor growth. AZD0364 is a potent, selective inhibitor of ERK's kinase activity against its cytosolic substrate p90RSK. It is currently in preclinical development, where it has shown dose-dependent, anti-tumor activity in xenograft models of KRAS-mutant NSCLC, including Calu-6 (where it shows regression) and A549. Treatment with AZD0364 demonstrates rapid and near-complete inhibition of phospho-p90RSK. In addition, prolonged inhibition with AZD0364 causes a gradual downregulation of p90RSK protein over time, without any corresponding change in p90RSK mRNA. Here we present a pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) model that links AZD0364 concentration to inhibition of ERK activity through both a direct inhibition of phospho-p90RSK and an indirect down-regulation of total-p90RSK protein. Anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects on efficacy are linked to changes in p90RSK. The model leads to two key implications (i) repeated dosing will cause apparent potency to improve over time, since the pool of available substrate (i.e., p90RSK) is itself being reduced and (ii) recovery of signaling to baseline will depend not on washout of the inhibitor but on protein synthesis rates. Protein half-lives appear quite different between tumor models of KRAS-mutant NSCLC, with A549 (~20h) significantly slower than Calu-6 (~4h). The model provides a conceptual framework on which to link the timescale of PD changes with those seen in efficacy. Taken together, this means that while a new PD steady-state is achieved in Calu-6 in a few days, it also recovers quickly, necessitating constant cover (daily dosing) to drive regression. On the other hand, while A549 is more robust to inhibition, and slower to reach steady-state inhibition (~2 weeks), it is also slower to recover, so that intermittent schedules can achieve efficacy similar to those achievable with daily dosing.
Citation Format: Francis D. Gibbons, Linda Sandin, Lyndsey Hanson, Rebecca Whiteley, Paul Farrington, Nicola Lindsay, Emma Davies, J Elizabeth Pease, Vikki Flemington. A PK/PD model quantitatively describes inhibition and down-regulation of p90RSK by ERK inhibitor AZD0364 [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2018; 2018 Apr 14-18; Chicago, IL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2018;78(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 4913.