Analysis of anti-proliferative and chemosensitizing effects of sunitinib on human esophagogastric cancer cells: Synergistic interaction with vandetanib via inhibition of multi-receptor tyrosine kinase pathways

Orestis Lyros, Annett Mueller, Florian Heidel, Carl C Schimanski, Ines Gockel, Peter R Galle, Hauke Lang, Markus Moehler
International Journal of Cancer. Journal International du Cancer 2010 September 1, 127 (5): 1197-208
The receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1-3 (VEGFR1-3), are frequently expressed in gastric cancer and are putative therapeutic targets in this disease. We have investigated the anti-proliferative and chemosensitizing properties of the multitargeted small-molecule RTK inhibitors sunitinib and vandetanib in a panel of 4 human gastric and esophageal cancer cell lines. In the 1st instance, the expression of potential targets of these small-molecule inhibitors was examined by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, western blotting, and flow cytometry. EGFR mRNA and protein was detected in all cases, with VEGFR2 expression noted in all but 1 line. Both EGF and VEGF were shown to stimulate tumor cell growth, and both sunitinib and vandetanib were found to be associated with significant dose-dependent inhibition of proliferation and an enhancement of apoptosis, as determined by MTT and propidium iodide/Annexin V labeling assays, respectively. The addition of sunitinib to VEGF-stimulated NCI-N87 cells was associated with a reduction in MAPK phosphorylation (pMAPK) but not Akt phosphorylation (pAkt), whereas the addition of vandetanib was associated with reductions in both VEGF- and EGF-mediated VEGFR2 phosphorylation, pMAPK and pAkt. Co-administration of sunitinib significantly enhanced the sensitivity of MKN-45 cells to cisplatin and irinotecan. In addition, vandetanib synergistically enhanced the sunitinib-associated inhibition of gastric cancer cell growth. In conclusion, these preliminary data confirm the importance of EGFR and VEGFR signaling in gastric cancer and suggest that the simultaneous inhibition of RTK-pathways through sunitinib and vandetanib may provide therapeutic benefit in this disease.

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