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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1993 Aug 18;85(16):1327-33.

Antitumor effects of doxorubicin in combination with anti-epidermal growth factor receptor monoclonal antibodies.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Cornell University Medical College, New York, N.Y.



A variety of human tumors frequently express high levels of epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor and its ligand, transforming growth factor alpha (TGF-alpha), which in some tumors is associated with poor prognosis. Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) that block the binding of TGF-alpha or EGF to the receptor can inhibit proliferation of tumor cells that express the receptor. Studies suggest that these MAbs may enhance the antitumor effects of chemotherapy.


Our purpose was to study, in vitro and in vivo, the antitumor effects of doxorubicin in combination with anti-EGF receptor MAbs against tumor cells expressing high levels of EGF receptor. Our goal was to achieve maximum initial cytoreduction with high-dose doxorubicin in association with prolonged blockade of EGF receptor with MAbs.


Anti-EGF receptor MAbs 528 (isotype IgG2a) and 225 (isotype IgG1) were used in combination with doxorubicin against cells from human A431 squamous cell carcinoma and human MDA-468 breast adenocarcinoma. Both A431 and MDA-468 cells express high levels of EGF receptors and TGF-alpha. Cultured cells were treated with doxorubicin (range, 0-10 nM) in the presence or absence of MAb 528 or 225 (range, 0-30 nM). At 48 hours, doxorubicin-containing medium was removed, and treatment with antibody was continued for 5 days, when cell proliferation assays were performed. The activity of the agents and the combinations against well-established xenografts in BALB/c nude mice was also studied. In nude mice, doxorubicin was given at doses of 50-100 micrograms/20 g body weight on 2 successive days, and MAbs 528 and 225 were given at a dose range of 0-2 mg intraperitoneally twice a week.


MAbs 528 and 225 both enhanced the antitumor effects of doxorubicin against A431 and MDA-468 tumor cells, producing additive growth suppression in cell cultures. MAb 528 increased the antitumor effects of doxorubicin by 32%-42%, and similar results were obtained with MAb 225. In BALB/c athymic mice, the treatment of well-established xenografts with either doxorubicin or anti-EGF receptor MAb alone temporarily inhibited growth, but the combination of both agents substantially enhanced antitumor activity over that of doxorubicin alone in A431 and MDA-468 cell xenografts. The combination treatment of mice bearing A431 xenografts resulted in tumor eradication of 40%-100% in the surviving mice in several independent experiments. The enhanced antitumor activity was dose dependent.


Our results suggest that anti-EGF receptor MAbs substantially enhance the effects of doxorubicin against well-established xenografts of tumor cells expressing high levels of EGF receptors.


Clinical trials with anti-EGF receptor MAbs are being conducted, and trials with anti-EGF receptor MAbs combined with doxorubicin are planned.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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