The SMAC mimetic LCL-161 displays antitumor activity in preclinical models of rituximab-resistant B-cell lymphoma

Kyle Runckel, Matthew J. Barth, Cory Mavis, Juan J. Gu and Francisco J. Hernandez-Ilizaliturri

Key Points

  • LCL-161 synergistically enhances chemotherapy activity in preclinical in vitro models of rituximab resistant B-cell lymphoma.

  • LCL-161 combined with multiagent chemotherapy significantly extends in vivo survival in rituximab-resistant B-cell lymphoma models.


Clinical observations suggest the existence of shared resistance pathways between rituximab and chemotherapy agents. To explore the mechanisms of rituximab resistance, our group created rituximab-resistant cell lines (RRCLs), which display altered expression of several inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) family proteins. Here, we provide evidence to support pharmacologically targeting IAPs in lymphoma with LCL-161, a small molecule mimetic of the second mitochondria-derived activator of caspases (SMAC). The antitumor effect of LCL-161 was determined using luminescent adenosine triphosphate assays, flow cytometry, SCID mouse xenografts, and ex vivo patient biopsy sample studies. In vitro exposure to LCL-161 also resulted in a dose-dependent decrease in IAP levels, along with synergistic enhancement of the antitumor effect of cytotoxic chemotherapy, in rituximab-sensitive cell lines and RRCLs. In addition, LCL-161 increased the cytotoxic effect of the proteasome inhibitor carfilzomib in ex vivo lymphoma patient samples. The combination of LCL-161 with the chemotherapy regimen rituximab, gemcitabine, and vinorelbine (RGV) improved in vivo survival compared with RGV alone in severe combined immunodeficient mice implanted with RRCLs but not in animals implanted with rituximab-sensitive cell lines. In summary, LCL-161 exhibits synergistic antitumor activity in both in vitro and in vivo models of resistant lymphoma. Our data support further preclinical investigation of LCL-161 as a novel antilymphoma agent.

  • Submitted March 2, 2018.
  • Accepted October 28, 2018.
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