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Br J Cancer. 2010 Jun 29;103(1):61-72. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6605699. Epub 2010 Jun 1.

Trastuzumab induced in vivo tissue remodelling associated in vitro with inhibition of the active forms of AKT and PTEN and RhoB induction in an ovarian carcinoma model.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Pharmacologie Clinique et Expérimentale des Médicaments Anticancéreux (EA 3035) Université Paul Sabatier, 118 route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse Cedex, France.



The incidence of ovarian cancer has been increasing worldwide and it is currently the leading cause of death from gynaecological malignancy. Unlike breast cancer, the prognostic role of the human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER-2) in ovarian carcinoma remains controversial.


The aim of this preclinical study was to further characterise the biological, molecular and cellular effects of trastuzumab (Herceptin) using NIH-OVCAR-3 and derived cell lines both in vitro and in vivo.


In vitro assessments have shown that trastuzumab treatment inhibited total and phosphorylated HER-2. This was associated with inhibition of the phosphorylated form of phosphatase and tensin homologue (PTEN), mitogen-activated protein kinase and AKT, and the total level of p27(kip). Inhibition of PTEN is associated with phosphorylated MEK1/2 upregulation, suggesting a specific inhibition of the protein phosphatase function of PTEN. Moreover, trastuzumab induced the upregulation of RhoB. These molecular modifications promote inhibition of cell migration and potentially restoration of tumour cell contact inhibition. RhoB induction in NIH-OVCAR-3 control cell lines mimics the molecular and cellular trastuzumab long-time exposition effects. RhoB inhibition in NIH-OVCAR-3 long-time exposed to trastuzumab cell line reverses the cellular and molecular effects observed in this model. In vivo examinations have shown that these changes are also associated with the restoration of structural, morphological and normal functions of the peritoneum of an ovarian carcinoma mouse model.


These results provide an indication of the mechanisms underlying the anti-tumour activity of trastuzumab that strongly implicate RhoB in an ovarian carcinoma model that does not show HER-2 amplification or overexpression. These findings highlight that trastuzumab effects involve a possible cross-talk between RhoB and PTEN in the early stages of tumour re-growth in a model of micrometastatic ovarian cancer.

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