The monoclonal antibody CH12 enhances the sorafenib-mediated growth inhibition of hepatocellular carcinoma xenografts expressing epidermal growth factor receptor variant III

Yaqiong Yang, Hua Jiang, Huiping Gao, Juan Kong, Pengwei Zhang, Suwen Hu, Bizhi Shi, Pengfei Zhang, Ming Yao, Zonghai Li
Neoplasia: An International Journal for Oncology Research 2012, 14 (6): 509-18
The multikinase inhibitor sorafenib is the first oral agent to show activity against human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Although the clinical application of sorafenib has shown good tolerability in the studied populations, it also causes multiple human dose-limiting toxicities. Thus, there is a strong need to reduce the overall dose of sorafenib. We have reported that the epidermal growth factor receptor variant III (EGFRvIII) expression can decrease the sensitivity of HCC cells to chemotherapeutic drugs. Therefore, we sought to explore whether EGFRvIII can affect the sensitivity of HCC cells to sorafenib. In this study, we observed that EGFRvIII expression significantly decreased the sensitivity of HCC cells to sorafenib. To enhance the antitumor effect and reduce the overall dose of sorafenib, we evaluated the combined effects of CH12, a monoclonal antibody against EGFRvIII, and sorafenib on the growth of HCC cells expressing EGFRvIII in vitro and in vivo. The results showed that, when CH12 was combined with sorafenib, the tumor growth suppression effect was significantly increased, and the concentration of sorafenib required for growth inhibition was substantially reduced. Mechanistically, the combination could more noticeably downregulate the phosphorylation of constitutively active extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), Akt (Thr308), and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) than sorafenib alone. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that CH12 interacts additively with sorafenib to strongly inhibit the tumor growth of HCC xenografts expressing EGFRvIII by enhancing the sorafenib-mediated inhibition of the MEK/ERK, phosphoinositide 3-kinase/AKT, and STAT3 pathways.

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