PARP inhibitors (PARPi) provide an effective maintenance option for patients with BRCA- or PALB2-mutated pancreatic cancer. However, mechanisms of PARPi resistance and optimal post-PARPi therapeutic strategies are poorly characterized.
We collected paired cell-free DNA samples and post-PARPi clinical data on 42 patients with advanced, platinum-sensitive pancreatic cancer who were treated with maintenance rucaparib on NCT03140670, of whom 32 developed progressive disease.
Peripherally detected, acquired BRCA or PALB2 reversion variants were uncommon (5/30; 16.6%) in patients who progressed on rucaparib. Reversions were significantly associated with rapid resistance to PARPi treatment (median PFS, 3.7 vs. 12.5 months; P = 0.001) and poor overall survival (median OS, 6.2 vs. 23.0 months; P < 0.0001). All patients with reversions received rechallenge with platinum-based chemotherapy following PARPi progression and experienced faster progression on this therapy than those without reversion variants (real-world time-to-treatment discontinuation, 2.4 vs. 5.8 months; P = 0.004). Of the patients who progressed on PARPi and received further chemotherapy, the OS from initiation of second-line therapy was significantly lower in those with reversion variants than in those without (5.5 vs. 12.0 months, P = 0.002). Finally, high levels of tumor shedding were independently associated with poor outcomes in patients who received rucaparib.
Acquired reversion variants were uncommon but detrimental in a population of patients with advanced BRCA- or PALB2-related pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma who received maintenance rucaparib. Reversion variants led to rapid progression on PARPi, rapid failure of subsequent platinum-based treatment, and poor OS of patients. The identification of such variants in the blood may have both predictive and prognostic value.