Introduction: Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis (LMC) occurs frequently in anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)–rearranged NSCLC and develops acquired resistance to ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitors (ALK TKIs). This study aimed to clarify the resistance mechanism to alectinib, a second-generation ALK TKI, in LMC and test a novel therapeutic strategy. Methods: We induced alectinib resistance in an LMC mouse model with ALK-rearranged NSCLC cell line, A925LPE3, by continuous oral alectinib treatment, established A925L/AR cells. Resistance mechanisms were analyzed using several assays, including Western blot and receptor tyrosine kinase array. We also measured amphiregulin (AREG) concentrations in cerebrospinal fluid from patients with ALK-rearranged NSCLC with alectinib-refractory LMC by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Results: A925L/AR cells were moderately resistant to various ALK TKIs, such as alectinib, crizotinib, ceritinib, and lorlatinib, compared with parental cells in vitro. A925L/AR cells acquired the resistance by EGFR activation resulting from AREG overexpression caused by decreased expression of microRNA-449a. EGFR TKIs and anti-EGFR antibody resensitized A925L/AR cells to alectinib in vitro. In the LMC model with A925L/AR cells, combined treatment with alectinib and EGFR TKIs, such as erlotinib and osimertinib, successfully controlled progression of LMC. Mass spectrometry imaging showed accumulation of the EGFR TKIs in the tumor lesions. Moreover, notably higher AREG levels were detected in cerebrospinal fluid of patients with alectinib-resistant ALK-rearranged NSCLC with LMC (n = 4), compared with patients with EGFR-mutated NSCLC with EGFR TKI–resistant LMC (n = 30), or patients without LMC (n = 24). Conclusions: These findings indicate the potential of novel therapies targeting both ALK and EGFR for the treatment of ALK TKI–resistant LMC in ALK-rearranged NSCLC.
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