Clinically meaningful efficacy in the treatment of brain tumors, including melanoma brain metastases (MBM), requires selection of a potent inhibitor against a suitable target, and adequate drug distribution to target sites in the brain. Deregulated constitutive signaling of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway has been frequently observed in melanoma, and mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal–regulated kinase (MEK) has been identified to be an important target. E6201 is a potent synthetic small-molecule MEK inhibitor. The purpose of this study was to evaluate brain distribution of E6201, and examine the impact of active efflux transport at the blood-brain barrier on the central nervous system (CNS) exposure of E6201. In vitro studies utilizing transfected Madin-Darby canine kidney II (MDCKII) cells indicate that E6201 is not a substrate of P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and breast cancer resistance protein (Bcrp). In vivo studies also suggest a minimal involvement of P-gp and Bcrp in E6201’s brain distribution. The total concentrations in brain were higher than in plasma, resulting in a brain-to-plasma AUC ratio (Kp) of 2.66 in wild-type mice. The brain distribution was modestly enhanced in Mdr1a/b2/2, Bcrp12/2, and Mdr1a/b2/2Bcrp12/2 knockout mice. The nonspecific binding of E6201 was higher in brain compared with plasma. However, free-drug concentrations in brain following 40 mg/kg intravenous dose reach levels that exceed reported in vitro half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) values, suggesting that E6201 may be efficacious in inhibiting MEK-driven brain tumors. The brain distribution characteristics of E6201 make it an attractive targeted agent for clinical testing in MBM, glioblastoma, and other CNS tumors that may be effectively targeted with inhibition of MEK signaling.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health [Grants RO1-NS077921 RO1-NS073610 and U54-CA210180] and Strategia Therapeutics Inc. Gautham Gampa was supported by the Ronald J. Sawchuk Fellowship in Pharmacokinetics. https://doi.org/10.1124/dmd.117.079194.