Addition of S-1 to the epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor gefitinib overcomes gefitinib resistance in non-small cell lung cancer cell lines with MET amplification

Takafumi Okabe, Isamu Okamoto, Sayaka Tsukioka, Junji Uchida, Erina Hatashita, Yuki Yamada, Takeshi Yoshida, Kazuto Nishio, Masahiro Fukuoka, Pasi A Jänne, Kazuhiko Nakagawa
Clinical Cancer Research 2009 February 1, 15 (3): 907-13

PURPOSE: Most non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumors with activating mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) are initially responsive to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKI) such as gefitinib and erlotinib, but they almost invariably develop resistance to these drugs. A secondary mutation in EGFR (T790M) and amplification of the MET proto-oncogene have been identified as mechanisms of such acquired resistance to EGFR-TKIs. We have now investigated whether addition of the oral fluoropyrimidine derivative S-1 to gefitinib might overcome gefitinib resistance in NSCLC cell lines.

EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: The effects of gefitinib on EGFR signaling and on the expression both of thymidylate synthase and of the transcription factor E2F-1 in gefitinib-resistant NSCLC cells were examined by immunoblot analysis. The effects of S-1 (or 5-fluorouracil) and gefitinib on the growth of NSCLC cells were examined in vitro as well as in nude mice.

RESULTS: Gefitinib induced down-regulation of thymidylate synthase and E2F-1 in gefitinib-resistant NSCLC cells with MET amplification but not in those harboring the T790M mutation of EGFR. The combination of 5-fluorouracil and gefitinib synergistically inhibited the proliferation of cells with MET amplification, but not that of those with the T790M mutation of EGFR, in vitro. Similarly, the combination of S-1 and gefitinib synergistically inhibited the growth only of NSCLC xenografts with MET amplification.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that the addition of S-1 to EGFR-TKIs is a promising strategy to overcome EGFR-TKI resistance in NSCLC with MET amplification.

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