Targeting methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase in the treatment of neuroblastoma

Academic Article


  • Purpose: The combination of temozolomide and irinotecan has preclinical schedule-dependent synergy against neuroblastoma but is not curative for relapsed high-risk patients. We hypothesized that the DNA repair protein methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) is an important resistance factor, and that inactivation of MGMT would sensitize neuroblastoma cells to these agents. Experimental Design: MGMT protein expression was assessed in 74 primary neuroblastoma tumors. Growth inhibition assays were done to determine the IC50 and the extent of synergy observed with various concentrations of temozolomide, irinotecan, and the MGMT-inactivating agent O 6-benzylguanine, using cultured syngeneic neuroblastoma cells with either low or high levels of MGMT expression. We then assessed efficacy in a mouse xenograft model of metastatic neuroblastoma. Results: MGMT was expressed by all 74 tumors evaluated. Pretreatment of neuroblastoma cells with O 6-benzylguanine reduced the IC50 of temozolomide by 10-fold regardless of level of MGMT expression, and pretreatment with BG followed by temozolomide + irinotecan further reduced the IC50 in cells with high MGMT expression another 10-fold, to well below clinically achievable concentrations. The combination index was 0.27 to 0.30 for all three drugs in both cell lines, indicating strong synergy. Survival at 100 days for mice with metastatic neuroblastoma was 56% with three-drug treatment, compared with untreated controls (0%, P < 0.001) or temozolomide + irinotecan (10%, P = 0.081). Conclusions: MGMT is widely expressed in primary neuroblastoma tumors, and is a relevant therapeutic target. Both in vitro and in vivo studies suggest inactivation of MGMT with O6-benzylguanine may increase the activity of temozolomide and irinotecan against neuroblastoma. © 2007 American Association for Cancer Research.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Wagner LM; McLendon RE; Yoon KJ; Weiss BD; Billups CA; Danks MK
  • Start Page

  • 5418
  • End Page

  • 5425
  • Volume

  • 13
  • Issue

  • 18