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Implication du métabolisme de la sérotonine dans les cancers du sein triple négatifs et perspectives cliniques

Abstract : Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is the most aggressive form of breast cancers. It accounts for 15-20% of breast cancers. No progress in survival has been achieved since the advent of standard chemotherapy protocols. TNBC is an important clinical challenge. They have the worst outcome among breast cancer subgroups. Given their poor prognosis, their assumed hetetogeneity, and absence of any alternative specific targeted therapy, chemotherapy remains the only TNBC treatment. Despite an often good initial response to treatment, more than a half of patients do not achieve a pathological complete response, with a frequent and fast tumor relapse. Several therapeutic approaches have been identified preclinically, but none of these molecules have been shown to be effective on all of these patients. There is a urge for the identification of new treatments.An interesting strategy is the repurposing of medical compounds that were initially not intended for the treatment of a given disease. This strategy takes advantage of the extremely expensive initial research and development effort. This process is potentially efficient and cost-effective as previous clinical trials have been performed and pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics and toxicity have been already explored. In order to develop new treatment schemes we addressed the following question: Is there available drugs with strong activity in TNBC? To do so, we performed a high-throughput drug screening on 12 TNBC cell lines to reflect the dramatic heterogeneity of the disease. From this drug discovery program, several interesting compounds were identified with significant anti-tumor potential against TNBC. More particularly, psychoactive compounds regulating serotonin metabolism (ie antidepressant drugs and notably serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors-SSRIs) were found to be highly effective “hits”.My thesis work turned to the comprehension of serotonin implication in TNBC physiopathology to understand if modulating its metabolism could be of therapeutic interest for TNBC management. Different biological aspects were investigated concerning serotonin effects on TNBC cellular models (serotonin adjunction in vitro or endogenous synthesis inhibition). In addition, I established a comprehensive map of the serotonergic landscape in TNBC (biosynthetic capacity, transporters, receptors) that led to the identification of therapeutic targets that would be of interest in the treatment of cancer: HTR1D and HTR1B. Indeed, by blocking these promising targets (with chemical inhibitors or siRNA knockdown) we observed a strong reduction in cell viability in our large panel of TNBC cell lines. Remarkably, we found that their expression levels were associated to poor prognosis in breast cancer, and notably in TNBC subtype with huge dichotomy observed in the outcome, allowing future stratification of TNBC patient management and selection for further targeted therapies. These results pinpoint HTR1D and HTR1B as strong prognosis biomarkers in TNBC. Immunohistochemistry staining was also conducted to confirm the presence of these targets at the protein level in tumor samples. Moreover, I could identify a microRNA regulating one of these receptors: has-miR-599. Consistently, expression levels of this microRNA demonstrated a prognostic impact on TNBC survival. While ex vivo data of one SSRI and the dual antagonist of HTR1D/HTR1D receptors shown encouraging efficacy, their preclinical evaluation assessed in a TN PDX model could not allow to demonstrate any significant effect on tumor growth in vivo. As a matter of fact, serotonin metabolism is a complex system and TNBC heterogeneity does not permit to conclude on the therapeutic proof of concept of the serotonergic modulation in TNBC with this first attempt. A scientific manuscript of this work is being prepared for publication.
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Alice Marques Pinheiro. Implication du métabolisme de la sérotonine dans les cancers du sein triple négatifs et perspectives cliniques. Cancer. Université Paris Saclay (COmUE), 2019. Français. ⟨NNT : 2019SACLS265⟩. ⟨tel-02943889⟩

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