JTO Clinical and Research Reports, Volume 2, April 2021,
Introduction: Estrogen receptors (ER) (ERα, ERβ) and aromatase (key enzyme for estrogen synthesis) are expressed in most human NSCLCs. High intratumoral estrogen levels and elevated aromatase expression in NSCLC predict poor outcome. This open-label, phase 1b, single-center study evaluated the safety and tolerability of escalating doses of the aromatase inhibitor, exemestane, in combination with carboplatin and pemetrexed in postmenopausal women with stage IV nonsquamous NSCLC. Methods: Patients received exemestane (starting 1-wk before chemotherapy) at 25 mg orally (PO) daily (cohort 1) or 50 mg PO daily (cohort 2) combined with carboplatin (area under the curve 6 mg × min/mL) and pemetrexed (500 mg/m2) intravenously every 3 weeks for four cycles. Thereafter, patients were eligible for continued therapy with exemestane and pemetrexed or pemetrexed alone. Results: A total of 10 patients consented for therapy, and two patients failed in the screening. Four patients completed the therapy in cohort 1 and four patients in cohort 2. The median number of cycles administered was 15 (range: 1–54). Maximum tolerated dose was exemestane 50 mg PO daily with combination chemotherapy. Intention-to-treat analysis revealed an objective response rate (ORR) of 62.5% (five of eight patients with partial response) and a clinical benefit rate of 87.5% (seven of eight patients with either stable disease or partial response). ORR was associated with aromatase expression (p = 0.02). Circulating estrogen levels decreased with exemestane use, and quality of life measurements did not significantly change during the treatment. There were no adverse events. Conclusions: The combination of carboplatin, pemetrexed, and exemestane in postmenopausal women with metastatic NSCLC is safe and well tolerated. Biomarker studies revealed that ORR correlates with tumor aromatase expression. These findings support future clinical trials to confirm the antitumor efficacy with this combination therapy.