T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is an aggressive hematologic malignancy in which activating mutations in the Notch pathway are thought to contribute to transformation, in part, by activating c-Myc. Increased c-Myc expression induces oncogenic stress that can trigger apoptosis through the MDM2-p53 tumor suppressor pathway. Since the great majority of T-ALL cases carry inactivating mutations upstream in this pathway but maintain wildtype MDM2 and TP53, we hypothesized that T-ALL would be selectively sensitive to MDM2 inhibition. Treatment with idasanutlin, an MDM2 inhibitor, induced only modest apoptosis in T-ALL cells but upregulated the pro-apoptotic BH3 domain genes BAX and BBC3, prompting us to evaluate the combination of idasanutlin with BH3 mimetics. Combination treatment with idasanutlin and navitoclax, a potent Bcl-2/Bcl-xL inhibitor, induces more consistent and potent synergistic killing of T-ALL PDX lines in vitro than venetoclax, a Bcl-2 specific inhibitor. Moreover, a marked synergic response to combination treatment with idasanutlin and navitoclax was seen in vivo in all four T-ALL xenografts tested, with a significant increase in overall survival in the combination treatment group. Collectively, these preclinical data show that the combination of idasanutlin and navitoclax is highly active in T-ALL and may merit consideration in the clinical setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2356-2366
Number of pages11
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2023


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