Phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) loss-of-function/PI3K pathway hyperactivation is associated with poor therapeutic outcomes and immune checkpoint inhibitor resistance across multiple malignancies. Our prior studies in Pb-Cre;PTENfl/flTrp53fl/fl genetically engineered mice (GEM) with aggressive-variant prostate cancer (AVPC) demonstrated tumor growth control in 60% mice following androgen deprivation therapy/PI3K inhibitor (PI3Ki)/programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) antibody combination, via abrogating lactate cross-talk between cancer cells and tumor-associated macrophages (TAM), and suppression of histone lactylation (H3K18lac)/phagocytic activation within TAM. Here, we targeted immunometabolic mechanism(s) of PI3Ki resistance, with the goal of durable tumor control in AVPC.
Pb-Cre;PTENfl/flTrp53fl/fl GEM were treated with PI3Ki (copanlisib), MEK inhibitor (trametinib) or Porcupine inhibitor (LGK'974) singly or their combinations. MRI was used to monitor tumor kinetics and immune/proteomic profiling/ex vivo coculture mechanistic studies were performed on GEM tumors or corresponding tumor-derived cell lines.
Given our proteomic profiling showing persistent MEK signaling within tumors of PI3Ki-resistant GEM, we tested whether addition of trametinib to copanlisib enhances tumor control in GEM, and we observed 80% overall response rate via additive suppression of lactate within TME and H3K18lac within TAM, relative to copanlisib (37.5%) monotherapy. The 20% resistant mice demonstrated feedback Wnt/β-catenin activation, resulting in restoration of lactate secretion by tumor cells and H3K18lac within TAM. Cotargeting Wnt/β-catenin signaling with LGK'974 in combination with PI3Ki/MEKi, demonstrated durable tumor control in 100% mice via H3K18lac suppression and complete TAM activation.
Abrogation of lactate-mediated cross-talk between cancer cells and TAM results in durable ADT-independent tumor control in PTEN/p53-deficient AVPC, and warrants further investigation in clinical trials.