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Oncogene. 1997 Jul 31;15(5):537-47.

The effect of HER-2/neu overexpression on chemotherapeutic drug sensitivity in human breast and ovarian cancer cells.

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Division of Hematology-Oncology, University of California at Los Angeles, School of Medicine, 90095, USA.


Recent studies indicate that oncogenes may be involved in determining the sensitivity of human cancers to chemotherapeutic agents. To define the effect of HER-2/neu oncogene overexpression on sensitivity to chemotherapeutic drugs, a full-length, human HER-2/neu cDNA was introduced into human breast and ovarian cancer cells. In vitro dose-response curves following exposure to 7 different classes of chemotherapeutic agents were compared for HER-2- and control-transfected cells. Chemosensitivity was also tested in vivo for HER-2- and control-transfected human breast and ovarian cancer xenografts in athymic mice. These studies indicate that HER-2/neu overexpression was not sufficient to induce intrinsic, pleomorphic drug resistance. Furthermore, changes in chemosensitivity profiles resulting from HER-2/neu transfection observed in vitro were cell line specific. In vivo, HER-2/neu-overexpressing breast and ovarian cancer xenografts were responsive to different classes of chemotherapeutic drugs compared to control-treated xenografts with no statistically significant differences between HER-2/neu-overexpressing and nonoverexpressing xenografts. We found no instance in which HER-2/neu-overexpressing xenografts were rendered more sensitive to chemotherapeutic drugs in vivo. HER-2/neu-overexpressing xenografts consistently exhibited more rapid regrowth than control xenografts following initial response to chemotherapy suggesting that a high rate of tumor cell proliferation rather than intrinsic drug resistance may be responsible for the adverse prognosis associated with HER-2/neu overexpression in human cancers.

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