B-cell receptor (BCR) resistance is a significant treatment obstacle in mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), but a new study highlights the potential protective role for cells expressing specific ligands.

Hilka Rauert-Wunderlich, of the University of Würzburg and Comprehensive Cancer Center, Germany, and her colleagues stimulated the REC-1, MAVER-1, and L-929 cell lines to show the role of the alternative nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappaB) pathway and the tumor necrosis factor ligand CD40L.

Viability assays showed a protective effect of CD40L prestimulation on BCR inhibitor treatment. The effect was detectable and significant in the REC-1 cell line for both ibrutinib and sotrastaurin at “clinically relevant concentrations” and in the resistant MAVER-1 cell line at “nonphysiologically high” sotrastaurin concentrations. CD40L stimulation also induced alternative NF-kappaB pathway signaling in both REC-1 and MAVER-1 cell lines.

“The data presented in this study argue for the protective potential of microenvironmentally mediated activation of the alternative [NF-kappaB] pathway in MCL cell against BCR signaling-associated drugs, which might represent a physiologic niche for MCL relapse. Additionally, these data provide evidence for the potential of the alternative [NF-kappaB] pathway as a possible therapeutic target in MCL,” the researchers wrote in Cell Death & Disease.

The researchers reported having no conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: Rauert-Wunderlich H et al. Cell Death Dis. 2018 Jan 24. doi: 10.1038/s41419-017-0157-6 .