Introduction Successful inhibition of thymidylate synthase (TS) by pemetrexed, a TS inhibitor, results in a reproducible transient burst or “flare” in thymidine salvage pathway activity at 2 hrs. of therapy which can be measurable with FLT-PET ([18F]fluorothymidine-positron emission tomography) in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Routine administration of dexamethasone with pemetrexed-based therapy could potentially confound this imaging approach since dexamethasone is known to inhibit expression of thymidine kinase 1, a key enzyme in the thymidine salvage pathway. Here we examine the potential impact of dexamethasone on the TS inhibition-mediated thymidine salvage pathway “flare” in NSCLC. Materials and methods In order to determine NSCLC cell line sensitivity to dexamethasone and pemetrexed, IC50 studies were performed on NSCLC cell lines H23, H1975, H460, H1299. TS inhibition-mediated “flare” in thymidine salvage pathway activity was then measured at 2hrs. of exposure to pemetrexed and cisplatin in NSCLC cells lines following using 3H-thymidine incorporation assays under the following conditions: control (no chemotherapy or dexamethasone), or treated with pemetrexed and cisplatin without dexamethasone, with 24 hrs. pre-treatment of dexamethasone or with dexamethasone administered together with chemotherapy. These conditions were chosen to model the delivery of pemetrexed-based therapy in the clinic. Results The IC50 of H23, H1975, H460, H1299 for dexamethasone and pemetrexed were 40, 5.9, 718, 362 μM and 0.22, 0.73, 0.14 and 0.66 μM respectively. Significant blunting of the thymidine salvage pathway “flare” is observed at 2hrs. of pemetrexed-based therapy when dexamethasone sensitive cell lines H23 and H1975 were pretreated with dexamethasone but not when dexamethasone was given together with pemetrexed therapy or in the setting of dexamethasone resistance (H460 and H1299). Conclusion 24 hr. pretreatment with dexamethasone, but not same day co-administration of dexamethasone with therapy, impairs the TS inhibition-mediated “flare” in thymidine salvage pathway activity in NSCLC.
Chen, X., Yang, Y., & Katz, S. I. (2018). Dexamethasone pretreatment impairs the thymidylate synthase inhibition mediated flare in thymidine salvage pathway activity in non-small cell lung cancer. PLoS ONE, 13(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0202384