TrkB inhibition by GNF-4256 slows growth and enhances chemotherapeutic efficacy in neuroblastoma xenografts.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Neuroblastoma (NB) is one of the most common and deadly pediatric solid tumors. NB is characterized by clinical heterogeneity, from spontaneous regression to relentless progression despite intensive multimodality therapy. There is compelling evidence that members of the tropomyosin receptor kinase (Trk) family play important roles in these disparate clinical behaviors. Indeed, TrkB and its ligand, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), are expressed in 50-60 % of high-risk NBs. The BDNF/TrkB autocrine pathway enhances survival, invasion, metastasis, angiogenesis and drug resistance.


We tested a novel pan-Trk inhibitor, GNF-4256 (Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation), in vitro and in vivo in a nu/nu athymic xenograft mouse model to determine its efficacy in inhibiting the growth of TrkB-expressing human NB cells (SY5Y-TrkB). Additionally, we assessed the ability of GNF-4256 to enhance NB cell growth inhibition in vitro and in vivo, when combined with conventional chemotherapeutic agents, irinotecan and temozolomide (Irino-TMZ).


GNF-4256 inhibits TrkB phosphorylation and the in vitro growth of TrkB-expressing NBs in a dose-dependent manner, with an IC₅₀ around 7 and 50 nM, respectively. Furthermore, GNF-4256 inhibits the growth of NB xenografts as a single agent (p < 0.0001 for mice treated at 40 or 100 mg/kg BID, compared to controls), and it significantly enhances the antitumor efficacy of irinotecan plus temozolomide (Irino-TMZ, p < 0.0071 compared to Irino-TMZ alone).


Our data suggest that GNF-4256 is a potent and specific Trk inhibitor capable of significantly slowing SY5Y-TrkB growth, both in vitro and in vivo. More importantly, the addition of GNF-4256 significantly enhanced the antitumor efficacy of Irino-TMZ, as measured by in vitro and in vivo growth inhibition and increased event-free survival in a mouse xenograft model, without additional toxicity. These data strongly suggest that inhibition of TrkB with GNF-4256 can enhance the efficacy of current chemotherapeutic treatment for recurrent/refractory high-risk NBs with minimal or no additional toxicity.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Croucher, JL; Iyer, R; Li, N; Molteni, V; Loren, J; Gordon, WP; Tuntland, T; Liu, B; Brodeur, GM

Published Date

  • January 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 75 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 131 - 141

PubMed ID

  • 25394774

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC4282593

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1432-0843

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0344-5704

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s00280-014-2627-1


  • eng