A role for macrophages under cytokine control in mediating resistance to ADI-PEG20 (pegargiminase) in ASS1-deficient mesothelioma

Pharmacological Reports 2023 April 3 [Link]

Melissa M Phillips, Iuliia Pavlyk, Michael Allen, Essam Ghazaly, Rosalind Cutts, Josephine Carpentier, Joe Scott Berry, Callum Nattress, Shenghui Feng, Gunnel Hallden, Claude Chelala, John Bomalaski, Jeremy Steele, Michael Sheaff, Frances Balkwill, Peter W Szlosarek


Background: Pegylated arginine deiminase (ADI-PEG20; pegargiminase) depletes arginine and improves survival outcomes for patients with argininosuccinate synthetase 1 (ASS1)-deficient malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). Optimisation of ADI-PEG20-based therapy will require a deeper understanding of resistance mechanisms, including those mediated by the tumor microenvironment. Here, we sought to reverse translate increased tumoral macrophage infiltration in patients with ASS1-deficient MPM relapsing on pegargiminase therapy.

Methods: Macrophage-MPM tumor cell line (2591, MSTO, JU77) co-cultures treated with ADI-PEG20 were analyzed by flow cytometry. Microarray experiments of gene expression profiling were performed in ADI-PEG20-treated MPM tumor cells, and macrophage-relevant genetic “hits” were validated by qPCR, ELISA, and LC/MS. Cytokine and argininosuccinate analyses were performed using plasma from pegargiminase-treated patients with MPM.

Results: We identified that ASS1-expressing macrophages promoted viability of ADI-PEG20-treated ASS1-negative MPM cell lines. Microarray gene expression data revealed a dominant CXCR2-dependent chemotactic signature and co-expression of VEGF-A and IL-1α in ADI-PEG20-treated MPM cell lines. We confirmed that ASS1 in macrophages was IL-1α-inducible and that the argininosuccinate concentration doubled in the cell supernatant sufficient to restore MPM cell viability under co-culture conditions with ADI-PEG20. For further validation, we detected elevated plasma VEGF-A and CXCR2-dependent cytokines, and increased argininosuccinate in patients with MPM progressing on ADI-PEG20. Finally, liposomal clodronate depleted ADI-PEG20-driven macrophage infiltration and suppressed growth significantly in the MSTO xenograft murine model.

Conclusions: Collectively, our data indicate that ADI-PEG20-inducible cytokines orchestrate argininosuccinate fuelling of ASS1-deficient mesothelioma by macrophages. This novel stromal-mediated resistance pathway may be leveraged to optimize arginine deprivation therapy for mesothelioma and related arginine-dependent cancers.