Introduction; Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields) is a novel non-invasive anticancer treatment modality utilizing alternating electric fields. TTFields is FDA approved for glioblastoma patients after demonstrating a 5 months increase in overall survival, and for unresectable mesothelioma patients after the STELLAR trial showed an overall survival of 18 months without increasing the toxicity. While the effectiveness of TTFields is initially attributed to the effects of TTFields during cell division, studies are ongoing analysing its interphase effects and impact on the tumor (micro)environment. Our aim is to further exploit the working mechanism of TTFields by analysing its effect on the cell cycle and identify targets to increase its efficacy.
Material and Methods; To analyse the effect of TTFields on the cell cycle, A172 glioblastoma cells were synchronized in S-phase by double thymidine block. Six hours post-release, cells were subjected to TTFields treatment (200kHz; 4,5V/cm). Cell cycle analysis was performed by flow cytometry (PI, α-phospho-histone H3Ser10). Efficacy of combination strategies were tested in 3 different glioblastoma cells lines (A172, U251 and SNB-19). Efficacy was quantified by colony formation assay (CFA) testing the cell reproductive death after treatment (i.e. only viable cells after treatment are replated to analyse the colony forming capacity).
Results: TTFields treatment of synchronized A172 cells showed that TTFields causes an accumulation of cells in G2 phase and delayed entry into mitosis with less than 1% of the cells in mitosis 4 hours after TTFields exposure (versus 5% of mitotic cells in the control arm, p<0.001). This arrest can be abrogated by Wee1 inhibition (AZD1775) increasing the mitotic population to more than 35% at 4 hours after TTFields exposure (p<0.001). To test the efficacy of targeting the G2 checkpoint during TTFields treatment, cells were treated with TTFields and a Wee1 (AZD1775, PD0166285) or Chk1 (AZD7762) inhibitor for 72 hours and then replated for CFA. We observed an impressive synergistic effect between TTFields and any of these G2 cell cycle interfering drugs in all three cell lines (p<0.001).
Conclusion: The underlying mechanism of the G2 checkpoint activation and the synergistic effect of TTFields plus G2 checkpoint targeting agents is subject of ongoing research. By any means, the combination of TTFields and G2 checkpoint targeting agents causes a synergistic treatment effect and is a very promising strategy.
Citation Format: Paul Slangen, Mariska van Geldorp, Mark de Gooijer, Olaf van Tellingen, Gerben Borst. Increasing TTFields treatment efficacy by targeting G2 cell cycle checkpoint [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research 2020; 2020 Apr 27-28 and Jun 22-24. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2020;80(16 Suppl):Abstract nr 92.