PURPOSE: The chemokine receptor CXCR4 is expressed in many different cancers. In malignant brain tumors, CXCR4 signaling has been implicated in tumor growth, survival, and migration, and pharmacologic inhibition of CXCR4 results in decreased tumor growth in preclinical models. To understand how CXCR4 inhibitors may be incorporated into clinical therapy, we examined determinants of responsiveness to CXCR4 inhibition. Because optimal use of CXCR4 inhibition will likely be a part of multimodality therapy, we also investigated the efficacy of CXCR4 inhibition combined with conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: CXCR4 protein levels and responsiveness to the CXCR4 inhibitor AMD3100 were determined in a panel of glioblastoma multiforme cell lines. The effects of AMD3100, alone or in combination with 1,3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea (BCNU), on cell growth were determined for several of these cell lines in vitro. We used an orthotopic model of glioblastoma multiforme to evaluate the antitumor efficacy of AMD3100 combined with BCNU in vivo. RESULTS: The level of CXCR4 protein expression in glioblastoma multiforme cells predicts the dose at which there is a response to AMD3100; cells that express higher levels of CXCR4 protein require higher doses for equivalent response. In all cell lines tested, treatment of glioblastoma multiforme cells with BCNU followed by AMD3100 results in synergistic antitumor efficacy in vitro. This synergy can also be seen in an orthotopic glioblastoma multiforme model. Treatment with subtherapeutic doses of BCNU in combination with AMD3100 results in tumor regression in vivo, and this reflects both increased apoptosis and decreased proliferation following combination therapy. CONCLUSION: These studies support testing CXCR4 inhibitors in patients with glioblastoma multiforme and establish that inhibition of CXCR4 synergizes with conventional cytotoxic therapies in a clinically relevant combinatorial strategy.
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