Targeting Cellular Metabolism With CPI-613 Sensitizes Pancreatic Cancer Cells to Radiation Therapy

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Adv Radiat Oncol


PURPOSE: Local tumor progression is a cause of significant morbidity and mortality in patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) with surgically unresectable disease. Novel and effective approaches to accomplish durable local control are urgently needed. We tested whether CPI-613 (devimistat), a first-in-class investigational small molecule inhibitor of mitochondrial metabolism, was capable of altering cancer cell energy metabolism and sensitizing PDAC cells to radiation therapy (RT).

METHODS AND MATERIALS: The effect of a combined treatment of RT with CPI-613 on the viability of, clonogenic potential of, and cell death induction in PDAC cells (MiaPaCa-2 and Panc-1) was determined using a trypan blue dye exclusion assay, a colony formation assay, and a 7-amino-actinomycin D assay, respectively. The synergistic effects of CPI-613-RT and chemotherapeutic agents (gemcitabine or 5-fluorouracil) were measured in MiaPaCa-2 cells using a 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide and spheroid formation assay. Changes in energy metabolism were determined by profiling metabolites treated with either RT, CPI-613, or both using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry.

RESULTS: This study demonstrates that a combination of single-fraction RT (2 and 10 Gy) with CPI-613 significantly inhibits PDAC cell growth compared with RT alone. Molecular analysis revealed inhibition of α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase at the protein level. In addition, we demonstrate enhanced cell death of PDAC cells when treated with RT-CPI-613 combination. Targeted metabolomic analysis on PDAC cells post-CPI-613-RT treatment revealed alterations in key mitochondrial metabolites, with broader target engagement by the combination treatment, indicating the sensitization of CPI-613-treated PDAC cells to RT. Furthermore, a combination treatment of CPI-613 with either gemcitabine or 5-fluorouracil in the presence of 2 Gy RT synergistically inhibits PDAC cell proliferation.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results support a novel combination of CPI-613-RT that warrants further preclinical and early-phase clinical investigations. A phase 1 trial designed to identify the maximum tolerated dose of CPI-613 in combination with chemo-RT in patients with PDAC was recently initiated (NCT05325281).

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