Combined cetuximab and genistein treatment shows additive anti-cancer effect on oral squamous cell carcinoma

Sung-Jin Park, Myung-Jin Kim, Yu-Kyoung Kim, Soung-Min Kim, Ju-Yong Park, Hoon Myoung
Cancer Letters 2010 June 1, 292 (1): 54-63
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the potency of EGFR pathway inhibition achieved by combining cetuximab, an anti-EGFR monoclonal antibody, and genistein, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, which target extracellular and intracellular domains of the receptor, respectively, in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) in vitro and in vivo. Two OSCC cell lines, HSC3 and KB, were treated with cetuximab (C, 0-400mug/ml), genistein (G, 0-80muM), or a combination of both at a range of concentrations. Downstream protein expression of EGFR, p-EGFR, and p-Akt were evaluated by Western blot. Cell proliferation and apoptosis indices were calculated to assess anti-cancer effects in vitro. The in vivo effects of cetuximab and genistein on tumor cell growth were examined using an OSCC xenografted nude mouse model and immunohistochemical analyses of proliferation (PCNA) and microvessel density (CD31). Treatment of cells with dual anti-EGFR agents reduced the expressions of p-EGFR, and p-Akt in HSC3 cell line, but there was no significant difference in downregulation between cetuximab alone and in combination with genistein in KB cells. Both HSC3 and KB cells showed a dose-dependent decrease in cell proliferation significantly with single agent treatment and combination (p<0.05). In low concentration, combined cetuximab and genistein therapy resulted in additive growth inhibition and more apoptosis compared to that achieved with single-agent exposure in both cell lines. A combination of cetuximab and genistein significantly inhibited tumor growth and caused a substantial growth delay in in vivo models of both cell lines while each single-agent exposure caused no delay of tumor growth. Immunohistochemical staining with PCNA revealed that the group receiving combined cetuximab and genistein exhibited the lowest number of proliferating cells and microvessel density (p<0.05). Combined therapy with genistein and cetuximab can add the potency of EGFR signaling inhibition. Because not all OSCC cell types appear to respond uniformly, however, selective targeting of distinct molecular pathways is required for effective clinical response.

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