Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and follicular lymphoma (FL) are the most prevalent B-lymphocyte neoplasms in which abnormal activation of the Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK)-mediated B-cell receptor (BCR) signaling pathway contributes to pathogenesis. Ibrutinib is an oral covalent BTK inhibitor that has shown some efficacy in both indications. To improve ibrutinib efficacy through combination therapy, we first investigated differential gene expression in parental and ibrutinib-resistant cell lines to better understand the mechanisms of resistance. Ibrutinib-resistant TMD8 cells had higher BCL2 gene expression and increased sensitivity to ABT-199, a BCL-2 inhibitor. Consistently, clinical samples from ABC-DLBCL patients who experienced poorer response to ibrutinib had higher BCL2 gene expression. We further demonstrated synergistic growth suppression by ibrutinib and ABT-199 in multiple ABC-DLBCL, GCB-DLBCL, and FL lymphoma cell lines. The combination of both drugs also reduced colony formation, increased apoptosis, and inhibited tumor growth in a TMD8 xenograft model. A synergistic combination effect was also found in ibrutinib-resistant cells generated by either genetic mutation or drug treatment. Together, these findings suggest a potential clinical benefit from ibrutinib and ABT-199 combination therapy.
- Received August 23, 2016.
- Revision received April 6, 2017.
- Accepted April 14, 2017.
- Copyright ©2017, American Association for Cancer Research.