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Invest New Drugs. 2011 Oct;29(5):752-9. doi: 10.1007/s10637-010-9415-5. Epub 2010 Mar 16.

Synergistic interaction between trastuzumab and EGFR/HER-2 tyrosine kinase inhibitors in HER-2 positive breast cancer cells.

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National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology, Dublin City University, Dublin 9, Ireland.


Overexpression of HER-2 in breast cancer is frequently associated with expression of EGFR, and EGFR expression influences response to HER-2 inhibition. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of combining dual inhibition of EGFR and HER-2, using trastuzumab, gefitinib and lapatinib, in HER-2 overexpressing breast cancer cells. Combination proliferation assays were performed in two HER-2 positive breast cancer cell lines, SKBR-3 and BT-474. Trastuzumab combined with lapatinib was also tested in BT-474 xenografts. In proliferation assays, dual targeting with trastuzumab and gefitinib or lapatinib showed synergy or additivity in both SKBR-3 and BT-474 cells. Trastuzumab (10 nM) or gefitinib (5 µM) alone did not induce significant apoptosis, whereas lapatinib (0.75 µM) induced significant apoptosis in SKBR-3 cells. Trastuzumab combined with lapatinib further enhanced apoptosis induction. Trastuzumab (10 nM) and gefitinib (5 µM) induced apoptosis comparable to lapatinib alone (0.75 µM), suggesting that inhibition of both EGFR and HER-2 may be required to induce apoptosis in these cells. Pre-treatment with trastuzumab and gefitinib or lapatinib enhanced response to chemotherapy in vitro. The combination of trastuzumab and lapatinib also effectively blocked tumour growth in vivo. Dual targeting of EGFR and HER-2, by combining trastuzumab with EGFR/HER-2 tyrosine kinase inhibitors, may improve response in HER-2 overexpressing breast cancer cells that also express EGFR.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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