Combine therapy of gefitinib and fulvestrant enhances antitumor effects on NSCLC cell lines with acquired resistance to gefitinib

Ruitong Xu, Hua Shen, Renhua Guo, Jing Sun, Wen Gao, Yongqian Shu
Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 2012, 66 (5): 384-9
Gefitinib, an EGFR receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, is approved for clinical use in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), but the emergence of mutations resistant to these inhibitors, such as T790M, has become a clinical problem. According to statistics, female patients, the presence of adenocarcinoma or non-smokers experienced a higher response rate. This may be involved in interaction between the estrogen receptor (ER) and the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). To test whether inhibition of the ER signaling pathway affects the antitumor effect of gefitinib, gefitinib and an ER antagonist, fulvestrant, were administered to NSCLC cell lines with acquired resistance to gefitinib. Compared with treatment of either fulvestrant or gefitinib alone, drug combination obviously decreased proliferation of H1976, H1650 and PC-9 cells coming from adenocarcinoma. Rapid activations of EGFR pathway by E2β were observed in H1975 cells with T790M mutation. Additionally, EGFR and ERs expression were down-regulated respectively in response to estrogen and EGF but up-regulated in response to fulvestrant and gefitinib in vitro. These results suggest that there is a functional cross-signaling between the EGFR/ER pathways in NSCLC with acquired resistance to gefitinib, possibly providing rationale for combining gefitinib with anti-estrogen therapy for advanced NSCLC treatment.

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