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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2012 Feb;132(1):109-19. doi: 10.1007/s10549-011-1568-1. Epub 2011 May 11.

ErbB1/2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor mediates oxidative stress-induced apoptosis in inflammatory breast cancer cells.

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Department of Pathology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Overexpression of epidermal growth factor receptors (ErbB) is frequently seen in inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). Treatment with ErbB1/2-targeting agents (lapatinib) mediates tumor apoptosis by downregulating ErbB1/2 phosphorylation and downstream survival signaling. In this study, using carboxy-H(2)DCFDA, DHE, and MitoSOX Red to examine changes in hydrogen peroxide radicals, cytoplasmic and mitochondrial superoxide, respectively, we observed that GW583340 (a lapatinib-analog) increases reactive oxygen species (ROS) in two models of IBC (SUM149, SUM190) that are sensitive to ErbB1/2 blockade. This significant increase in ROS levels was similar to those generated by classical oxidative agents H(2)O(2) and paraquat. In contrast, minimal to basal levels of ROS were measured in a clonal population of GW583340-resistant IBC cells (rSUM149 and rSUM190). The GW583340-resistant IBC cells displayed increased SOD1, SOD2, and glutathione expression, which correlated with decreased sensitivity to the apoptotic-inducing effects of GW583340, H(2)O(2), and paraquat. The ROS increase and cell death in the GW583340-sensitive cells was reversed by simultaneous treatment with a superoxide dismutase (SOD) mimic. Additionally, overcoming the high levels of antioxidants using redox modulators induced apoptosis in the GW583340-resistant cells. Taken together, these data demonstrate a novel mechanism of lapatinib-analog-induced apoptosis and indicate that resistant cells have increased antioxidant potential, which can be overcome by treatment with SOD modulators.

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