PARP inhibitors for sensitization of alkylation chemotherapy in glioblastoma: Impact of blood-brain barrier and molecular heterogeneity

Shiv K. Gupta, Emily J. Smith, Ann C. Mladek, Shulan Tian, Paul A. Decker, Sani H. Kizilbash, Gaspar J. Kitange, Jann N. Sarkaria

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45 Scopus citations


Prognosis of patients with glioblastoma (GBM) remains dismal despite maximal surgical resection followed by aggressive chemo-radiation therapy. Almost every GBM, regardless of genotype, relapses as aggressive recurrent disease. Sensitization of GBM cells to chemo-radiation is expected to extend survival of patients with GBM by enhancing treatment efficacy. The PARP family of enzymes has a pleiotropic role in DNA repair and metabolism and has emerged as an attractive target for sensitization of cancer cells to genotoxic therapies. However, despite promising results from a number of preclinical studies, progress of clinical trials involving PARP inhibitors (PARPI) has been slower in GBM as compared to other malignancies. Preclinical in vivo studies have uncovered limitations of PARPI-mediated targeting of base excision repair, considered to be the likely mechanism of sensitization for temozolomide (TMZ)-resistant GBM. Nevertheless, PARPI remain a promising sensitizing approach for at least a subset of GBM tumors that are inherently sensitive to TMZ. Our PDX preclinical trial has helped delineate MGMT promoter hyper-methylation as a biomarker of the PARPI veliparib-mediated sensitization. In clinical trials, MGMT promoter hyper-methylation now is being studied as a potential predictive biomarker not only for response to TMZ therapy alone, but also PARPI-mediated sensitization of TMZ therapy. Besides the combination approach being investigated, IDH1/2 mutant gliomas associated with 2-hydroxygluterate (2HG)-mediated homologous recombination (HR) defect may potentially benefit from PARPI monotherapy. In this article, we discuss existing results and provide additional data in support of potential alternative mechanisms of sensitization that would help identify potential biomarkers for PARPI-based therapeutic approaches to GBM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number670
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Issue numberJAN
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was supported by the NIH grants R03 CA201612 to SG, R01 CA176830 to JS, and P50 CA108961. SG is partly supported through Eagles Cancer Funds, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Gupta, Smith, Mladek, Tian, Decker, Kizilbash, Kitange and Sarkaria.


  • Chemo-radiation sensitivity
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA repair activity
  • PARP (poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase
  • Replication stress


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