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Br J Cancer. 2008 Feb 26;98(4):749-55. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604222. Epub 2008 Feb 5.

Enhancement of the antitumor activity of ionising radiation by nimotuzumab, a humanised monoclonal antibody to the epidermal growth factor receptor, in non-small cell lung cancer cell lines of differing epidermal growth factor receptor status.

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Department of Medical Oncology, Kinki University School of Medicine, 377-2 Ohno-higashi, Osaka-Sayama, Osaka 589-8511, Japan.


The expression and activity of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) are determinants of radiosensitivity in several tumour types, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, little is known of whether genetic alterations of EGFR in NSCLC cells affect the therapeutic response to monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to EGFR in combination with radiation. We examined the effects of nimotuzumab, a humanised mAb to EGFR, in combination with ionising radiation on human NSCLC cell lines of differing EGFR status. Flow cytometry revealed that H292 and Ma-1 cells expressed high and moderate levels of EGFR on the cell surface, respectively, whereas H460, H1299, and H1975 cells showed a low level of surface EGFR expression. Immunoblot analysis revealed that EGFR phosphorylation was inhibited by nimotuzumab in H292 and Ma-1 cells but not in H460, H1299, or H1975 cells. Nimotuzumab augmented the cytotoxic effect of radiation in H292 and Ma-1 cells in a clonogenic assay in vitro, with a dose enhancement factor of 1.5 and 1.3, respectively. It also enhanced the antitumor effect of radiation on H292 and Ma-1 cell xenografts in nude mice, with an enhancement factor of 1.3 and 4.0, respectively. Nimotuzumab did not affect the radioresponse of H460 cells in vitro or in vivo. Nimotuzumab enhanced the antitumor efficacy of radiation in certain human NSCLC cell lines in vitro and in vivo. This effect may be related to the level of EGFR expression on the cell surface rather than to EGFR mutation.

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