Effect of epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor class in the treatment of head and neck cancer with concurrent radiochemotherapy in vivo

Academic Article


  • Purpose: To optimally integrate epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors into the clinical treatment of head and neck cancer, two important questions must be answered: (a) does EGFR inhibition add to the effects of radiochemotherapy, and (b) if so, which method of inhibiting EGFR is superior (an EGFR antibody versus a small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor)? We designed an in vivo study to address these questions. Experimental Design: Nude mice with UMSCC-1 head and neck cancer xenografts received either single, double, or triple agent therapy with an EGFR inhibitor (either cetuximab or gefitinib), gemcitabine, and/or radiation for 3 weeks. Tumor volumes and animal weights were measured for up to 15 weeks. Immunoblotting and immunofluorescent staining were done on tumors treated with either cetuximab or gefitinib alone. Results: The addition of an EGFR inhibitor significantly delayed the tumor volume doubling time, from a median of 40 days with radiochemotherapy (gemcitabine and radiation) alone, to 106 days with cetuximab and 66 days with gefitinib (both P < 0.005). Cetuximab resulted in significantly less weight loss than gefitinib. Immunoblot analysis and immunofluorescent staining of tumors show that although levels of phosphorylated AKT and extracellular signal - regulated kinase were decreased similarly in response to cetuximab or gefitinib, cetuximab caused prolonged suppression of pEGFR, pSTAT3, and Bcl XL compared with gefitinib. Conclusions: EGFR inhibition, particularly with cetuximab, improves the effectiveness of radiochemotherapy in this model of head and neck cancer. The correlation of response with prolonged suppression of EGFR, STAT3, and BCIXL offers the possibility that these may be candidate biomarkers for response. © 2007 American Association for Cancer Research.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Feng FY; Lopez CA; Normolle DP; Varambally S; Li X; Chun PY; Davis MA; Lawrence TS; Nyati MK
  • Start Page

  • 2512
  • End Page

  • 2518
  • Volume

  • 13
  • Issue

  • 8