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Br J Cancer. 2000 Jan;82(1):46-51.

Anti-HER2 antibody enhances the growth inhibitory effect of anti-oestrogen on breast cancer cells expressing both oestrogen receptors and HER2.

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Department of Breast and Thyroid Surgery, Kawasaki Medical School, Okayama, Japan.


Anti-oestrogen is effective for the treatment of oestrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast carcinomas, but most of these tumours become resistant to anti-oestrogen. It has been suggested that anti-oestrogen therapy may induce a HER2 signalling pathway in breast cancer cells and this may cause resistance to anti-oestrogen. Thus, it is conceivable that combined therapy with anti-oestrogen and anti-HER2 antibody might be more effective. In the present study, we investigated the effect of combined treatment with a humanized anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody, rhumAbHER2 (trastuzumab), and an anti-oestrogen, ICI 182,780, on the cell growth of three human breast cancer cell lines which respectively express different levels of ER and HER2. The combined treatment enhanced the growth inhibitory effect on ML-20 cells, which express a high level of ER and a moderate level of HER2, but showed no additive effect on either KPL-4 cells, which express no ER and a moderate level of HER2, or MDA-MB-231 cells, which express no ER and a low level of HER2. It is also suggested that both the antibody and anti-oestrogen induce a G1-S blockade and apoptosis. These findings indicate that combined treatment with anti-HER2 antibody and anti-oestrogen may be useful for the treatment of patients with breast cancer expressing both ER and HER2.

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