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Clin Cancer Res. 2004 Jul 15;10(14):4874-84.

Evaluation of the therapeutic potential of the epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor gefitinib in preclinical models of bladder cancer.

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  • 1Northern Institute for Cancer Research, School of Surgical and Reproductive Sciences, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Newcastle, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, United Kingdom.


The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is associated with aggressive phenotypes and is an independent predictor of stage progression and mortality in bladder cancer. Gefitinib ('Iressa,' ZD1839) is an orally active EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitor. The objective of this study was to evaluate the in vitro and in vivo effects of gefitinib in the EGFR-expressing human bladder cancer cell lines 253J B-V, RT-112, and T24. EGFR expression was 3- and 2-fold higher in 253J B-V and RT-112, respectively, compared with T24 cells. Ten microm gefitinib inhibited EGFR, p42/44 extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), and Akt/protein kinase B phosphorylation in all three of the cell lines. Inhibition of ERK by gefitinib was significantly greater in 253J B-V compared with RT-112 and T24 cells (9:2:1 in 253J B-V:RT-112:T24), whereas inhibition of Akt phosphorylation was less in 253J B-V compared with RT-112 and T24 cells (1:9:30 in 253J B-V:RT-112:T24). When cultured in serum-free medium supplemented with epidermal growth factor, 10 microm gefitinib inhibited DNA synthesis in T24 and RT-112 cells, whereas 1 microm gefitinib was sufficient to inhibit DNA synthesis in 253J B-V cells. Similarly, in the presence of serum, 10 microm gefitinib induced a significant reduction in S-phase and viable cell number in T24 and RT-112 cells, whereas 1-10 microm gefitinib caused a dose-dependent effect on these phenotypes in 253J B-V cells. Gefitinib significantly enhanced the ability of ionizing radiation to reduce colony forming ability in 253J B-V and RT-112 cells. In nude mice, a daily oral dose of 150 mg/kg gefitinib induced regression of tumors produced by 253J B-V cells growing at s.c. sites and suppression of tumors produced by these cells at orthotopic sites but had no effect on tumors produced by RT-112 cells growing at s.c. sites. The data indicates that gefitinib has potential therapeutic value, alone or in combination with ionizing radiation, in a subset of EGFR-expressing bladder cancers. However, there is a differential response to gefitinib in these EGFR-expressing bladder cancer cell lines. Although gefitinib can inhibit phosphorylation of EGFR, ERK, and Akt, and inhibit growth of bladder cancer cells in vitro, it does not necessarily inhibit growth of bladder cancer cells in vivo. It is likely that optimized therapy approaches will require an accurate "molecular" diagnosis allowing effective, selective, tailored therapeutic strategies to be designed.

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