ABT-199 mediated inhibition of BCL-2 as a novel therapeutic strategy in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Peirs S., Matthijssens F., Goossens S., Van de Walle I., Ruggero K., de Bock CE., Degryse S., Canté-Barrett K., Briot D., Clappier E., Lammens T., De Moerloose B., Benoit Y., Poppe B., Meijerink JP., Cools J., Soulier J., Rabbitts TH., Taghon T., Speleman F., Van Vlierberghe P.
T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is a high-risk subtype of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) with gradually improved survival through introduction of intensified chemotherapy. However, therapy-resistant or refractory T-ALL remains a major clinical challenge. Here, we evaluated B-cell lymphoma (BCL)-2 inhibition by the BH3 mimetic ABT-199 as a new therapeutic strategy in human T-ALL. The T-ALL cell line LOUCY, which shows a transcriptional program related to immature T-ALL, exhibited high in vitro and in vivo sensitivity for ABT-199 in correspondence with high levels of BCL-2. In addition, ABT-199 showed synergistic therapeutic effects with different chemotherapeutic agents including doxorubicin, l-asparaginase, and dexamethasone. Furthermore, in vitro analysis of primary patient samples indicated that some immature, TLX3- or HOXA-positive primary T-ALLs are highly sensitive to BCL-2 inhibition, whereas TAL1 driven tumors mostly showed poor ABT-199 responses. Because BCL-2 shows high expression in early T-cell precursors and gradually decreases during normal T-cell differentiation, differences in ABT-199 sensitivity could partially be mediated by distinct stages of differentiation arrest between different molecular genetic subtypes of human T-ALL. In conclusion, our study highlights BCL-2 as an attractive molecular target in specific subtypes of human T-ALL that could be exploited by ABT-199.