NQO1-dependent, tumor-selective radiosensitization of non-small cell lung cancers

Edward A. Motea, Xiumei Huang, Naveen Singh, Jessica A. Kilgore, Noelle S. Williams, Xian-Jin Xie, David E. Gerber, Muhammad S Beg, Erik A. Bey, David A Boothman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose: Development of tumor-specific therapies for the treatment of recalcitrant non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) is urgently needed. Here, we investigated the ability of β-lapachone (β-lap,ARQ761 in clinical form) to selectively potentiate the effects of ionizing radiation (IR, 1-3 Gy) in NSCLCs that overexpress NAD(P)H:Quinone Oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1). Experimental Design: The mechanism of lethality of lowdose IR in combination with sublethal doses of β-lap was evaluated in NSCLC lines in vitro and validated in subcutaneous and orthotopic xenograft models in vivo. Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics (PK/PD) studies comparing single versus cotreatments were performed to validate therapeutic efficacy and mechanism of action. Results: β-Lap administration after IR treatment hyperactivated PARP, greatly lowered NAD+/ATP levels, and increased double-strand break (DSB) lesions over time in vitro. Radiosensitization of orthotopic, as well as subcutaneous, NSCLCs occurred with high apparent cures (>70%), even though 1/8 β-lap doses reach subcutaneous versus orthotopic tumors. No methemoglobinemia or long-term toxicities were noted in any normal tissues, including mouse liver that expresses the highest level of NQO1 (~12 units) of any normal tissue. PK/PD responses confirm that IR + β-lap treatments hyperactivate PARP activity, greatly lower NAD+/ATP levels, and dramatically inhibit DSB repair in exposed NQO1+ cancer tissue, whereas low NQO1 levels and high levels of catalase in associated normal tissue were protective. Conclusions: Our data suggest that combination of sublethal doses of β-lap and IR is a viable approach to selectively treat NQO1-overexpressing NSCLC and warrant a clinical trial using low-dose IR + β-lap against patients with NQO1+ NSCLCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2601-2609
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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