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Elucidating molecular mechanisms and therapeutic synergy: irreversible HER2-TKI plus T-Dxd for enhanced anti-HER2 treatment of gastric cancer.

Gastric Cancer 2024 Februrary 23
BACKGROUND: HER2-targeted therapies have improved the outcomes of HER2-positive gastric cancer (GC), yet resistance remains a challenge. We sought to explore the effects of reversible and irreversible HER2 tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) alone or in combination with the HER2-targeting antibody drug conjugate trastuzumab deruxtecan (T-Dxd).

METHODS: The effects of HER2-TKIs on HER2 and downstream signaling were evaluated via Western blotting. Proteasomal inhibitors and co-immunoprecipitation assays were performed to explore the role of proteasomal degradation in HER2 expression modulation, and immunofluorescence assays were employed to explore mechanisms of HER2 internalization. The synergistic potential of the irreversible HER2-TKI pyrotinib in combination with T-Dxd was validated using growth and viability assays in anti-HER2-positive GC cell cultures and tumor growth and immunohistochemical staining assays in a mouse xenograft model.

RESULTS: Our study revealed that reversible HER2-TKIs elevated HER2 protein levels, whereas irreversible HER2-TKIs decreased them. Pyrotinib triggered HER2 degradation within the proteasome by promoting ubiquitination and dissociation from HSP90. Furthermore, pyrotinib substantially induced HER2 internalization, which led to improved cellular uptake of T-Dxd. The increased T-Dxd uptake was accompanied by greater efficacy in suppressing the growth of GC cells and enhanced anti-tumor effects in an animal model.

CONCLUSION: In summary, our research reveals the molecular mechanisms of irreversible HER2-TKIs in regulating HER2 protein expression by promoting HER2 internalization. These findings advance our comprehension of targeted therapy for GC and provide a promising therapeutic combination strategy with enhanced efficacy against HER2-positive GC.

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