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Cancer Biol Ther. 2006 Oct;5(10):1332-9. Epub 2006 Oct 15.

MEK1/2 inhibition promotes Taxotere lethality in mammary tumors in vivo.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia 23298, USA.


Taxol (paclitaxel) and Taxotere (docetaxel) are considered as two of the most important anti-cancer chemotherapy drugs. The cytotoxic action of these drugs has been linked to their ability to inhibit microtubule depolymerization, causing growth arrest and subsequent cell death. Studies by a number of laboratories have also linked suppression of MEK1/2 signaling to enhanced Taxol toxicity in vitro and in vivo. The present study examined the interactions of the semi-synthetic taxane Taxotere with MEK1/2 inhibitors in epithelial tumor cells. In vitro colony formation studies demonstrated that Taxotere and the MEK1/2 inhibitor PD184352 interacted in a sequence dependent fashion to synergistically kill human mammary carcinoma cells (MDA-MB-231, MCF7) as well as in other tumor cell types; e.g. prostate and renal cell carcinoma. Athymic mice were implanted in the rear flank with either MDA-MB-231 or MCF7 cells and tumors permitted to form to a volume of approximately 100 mm3 prior to a two day exposure of either Vehicle, PD184352 (25 mg/kg), Taxotere (15 mg/kg) or the drug combination. Tumor volume was measured every other day and tumor growth determined over the following approximately 30 days. Transient exposure of MDA-MB-231 tumors or MCF7 tumors to PD184352 did not significantly alter tumor growth rate or the mean tumor volume in vivo approximately 15-30 days after drug administration. Transient Taxotere exposure of MDA-MB-231 or to a lesser extent MCF7, tumors modestly reduced the mean tumor volume in vivo approximately 15-30 days after drug administration. In contrast, combined treatment with PD184352 and Taxotere significantly reduced MDA-MB-231 and MCF7 tumor growth. The tumor control values for MDA-MB-231 cells and MCF7 cells were 0.43 and 0.71, respectively. Fractionated irradiation of MDA-MB-231 tumors during drug exposure or single dose irradiation prior to drug administration did not significantly further suppress tumor growth beyond that of cells exposed to Taxotere and MEK1/2 inhibitor. Single dose irradiation of tumors after drug exposure, however, caused a significant further suppression of tumor growth below that caused by drug exposure. These findings were also reflected in ex vivo colony formation analyses of isolated tumor cells. Collectively, these findings argue that Taxotere and MEK1/2 inhibitors have the potential to suppress mammary tumor growth in vivo which is enhanced by sequence-dependent exposure to ionizing radiation. Based on the cell lines used in these studies, our findings argue that the interaction of Taxotere and PD184352 is independent of p53 status, estrogen dependency, caspase 3 levels or oncogenic K-RAS expression.

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