Research Papers:

Central nervous system-specific efficacy of CDK4/6 inhibitors in randomized controlled trials for metastatic breast cancer

Long V. Nguyen, Karlee Searle and Katarzyna J. Jerzak _

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Oncotarget. 2019; 10:6317-6322. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.27238

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Long V. Nguyen1, Karlee Searle1 and Katarzyna J. Jerzak1

1 Division of Medical Oncology and Hematology, Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Correspondence to:

Katarzyna J. Jerzak,email: [email protected]

Keywords: breast neoplasms; blood-brain barrier; palbociclib; ribociclib; abemaciclib

Received: July 10, 2019     Accepted: September 10, 2019     Published: October 29, 2019


Importance: Metastatic breast cancer with central nervous system (CNS) metastases carries a poor prognosis. Recently, CDK4/6 inhibitors have demonstrated a progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival benefit when combined with standard endocrine therapy in advanced hormone receptor (HR)+/HER2- breast cancer. Pre-clinical data suggests possible activity of CDK4/6 inhibitors in the brain, but their CNS-specific benefit has not been explored in clinical practice.

Methods: We reviewed clinical trials investigating the efficacy of CDK4/6 inhibitors for advanced or metastatic HR+/HER2- breast cancer. We also reviewed pre-clinical studies that demonstrated the ability of CDK4/6 inhibitors to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and halt the growth of brain metastases in animal models.

Findings: An ongoing phase II trial (NCT02308020) was designed to investigate the safety and tolerability of abemaciclib for treatment of patients with CNS metastases, with preliminary data showing partial response in some patients. Review of key randomized phase III trials revealed a scarcity of data pertaining to the development of new CNS metastases. Pre-clinical models demonstrate that CDK4/6 inhibitors are able to cross the BBB and can delay the growth of brain metastases.

Conclusions: Despite encouraging pre-clinical evidence, there is a lack of clinical data to inform CNS-specific response rates to CDK4/6 inhibitors among patients with metastatic breast cancer. Given that the treatment of patients with breast cancer brain metastases represents an area of unmet medical need, enrollment of patients with CNS metastases in ongoing clinical trials should be encouraged; innovative trials that examine response of CNS metastases to CDK4/6 inhibitors are also of interest.

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