Publication
Title
Simultaneous targeting of EGFR, HER2, and HER4 by afatinib overcomes intrinsic and acquired cetuximab resistance in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cell lines
Author
Abstract
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR, HER1) is a therapeutic target in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). After initial promising results with EGFR-targeted therapies such as cetuximab, therapeutic resistance has become a major clinical problem, and new treatment options are therefore necessary. Moreover, the relationship between HER receptors, anti-EGFR therapies, and the human papillomavirus (HPV) status in HNSCC is not fully understood. In contrast to first-generation EGFR inhibitors, afatinib irreversibly inhibits multiple HER receptors simultaneously. Therefore, treatment with afatinib might result in a more pronounced therapeutic benefit, even in patients experiencing cetuximab resistance. In this study, the cytotoxic effect of afatinib as single agent and in combination with cisplatin was investigated in cetuximab-sensitive, intrinsically cetuximab-resistant, and acquired cetuximab-resistant HNSCC cell lines with different HPV status under normoxia and hypoxia. Furthermore, the influence of cetuximab resistance, HPV, and hypoxia on the expression of HER receptors was investigated. Our results demonstrated that afatinib was able to establish cytotoxicity in cetuximab-sensitive, intrinsically cetuximab-resistant, and acquired cetuximab-resistant HNSCC cell lines, independent of the HPV status. However, cross-resistance between cetuximab and afatinib might be possible. Treatment with afatinib caused a G(0)/G(1) cell cycle arrest as well as induction of apoptotic cell death. Additive to antagonistic interactions between afatinib and cisplatin could be observed. Neither cetuximab resistance nor HPV status significantly influenced the expression of HER receptors in HNSCC cell lines. In contrast, the expression of EGFR, HER2, and HER3 was significantly altered under hypoxia. Oxygen deficiency is a common characteristic of HNSCC tumors, and these hypoxic tumor regions often contain cells that are more resistant to treatment. However, we observed that afatinib maintained its cytotoxic effect under hypoxia. In conclusion, our preclinical data support the hypothesis that afatinib might be a promising therapeutic strategy to treat patients with HNSCC experiencing intrinsic or acquired cetuximab resistance.
Language
English
Source (journal)
Molecular Oncology
Publication
2018
ISSN
1574-7891
1878-0261
Volume/pages
12 :6 (2018) , p. 830-854
ISI
000434152600005
Pubmed ID
29603584
Full text (Publisher's DOI)
UAntwerpen
Faculty/Department
Research group
Publication type
Subject
Affiliation
Publications with a UAntwerp address
External links
Web of Science
Record
Identification
Creation 10.07.2018
Last edited 19.10.2021
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