The in-clinic phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitors idelalisib (CAL-101) and duvelisib (IPI-145) have demonstrated high rates of response and progression-free survival in clinical trials of B-cell malignancies, such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). However, a high incidence of adverse events has led to frequent discontinuations, limiting the clinical development of these inhibitors. By contrast, the dual PI3Kδ/casein kinase-1-ε (CK1ε) inhibitor umbralisib (TGR-1202) also shows high rates of response in clinical trials but has an improved safety profile with fewer severe adverse events. Toxicities typical of this class of PI3K inhibitors are largely thought to be immune mediated, but they are poorly characterized. Here, we report the effects of idelalisib, duvelisib, and umbralisib on regulatory T cells (Tregs) on normal human T cells, T cells from CLL patients, and T cells in an Eμ-TCL1 adoptive transfer mouse CLL model. Ex vivo studies revealed differential effects of these PI3K inhibitors; only umbralisib treatment sustained normal and CLL-associated FoxP3+ human Tregs. Further, although all 3 inhibitors exhibit antitumor efficacy in the Eμ-TCL1 CLL model, idelalisib- or duvelisib-treated mice displayed increased immune-mediated toxicities, impaired function, and reduced numbers of Tregs, whereas Treg number and function were preserved in umbralisib-treated CLL-bearing mice. Finally, our studies demonstrate that inhibition of CK1ε can improve CLL Treg number and function. Interestingly, CK1ε inhibition mitigated impairment of CLL Tregs by PI3K inhibitors in combination treatment. These results suggest that the improved safety profile of umbralisib is due to its role as a dual PI3Kδ/CK1ε inhibitor that preserves Treg number and function.
© 2020 by The American Society of Hematology.