Brain tumors in mice are susceptible to blockade of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) with the oral, specific, EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitor ZD1839 (Iressa)

Department of Surgery, Neurosurgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.
Clinical Cancer Research (Impact Factor: 8.72). 11/2002; 8(11):3496-502.
Source: PubMed


Iressa (ZD1839) is a p.o.-active, selective, epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor (EGFR-TKI) that blocks signal transduction pathways implicated in cancer cell proliferation, survival, and host-dependent processes promoting cancer growth. EGFR is up-regulated in primary malignant tumors of the central nervous system (CNS) and in many systemic tumors that metastasize to the CNS. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of p.o.-administered ZD1839 for the treatment of established intracerebral (i.c.) tumors expressing EGFR or the tumorigenic mutated variant EGFRvIII, which is constitutively phosphorylated. Oral administration of ZD1839 at 50 or 100 mg/kg/day for 3 weeks in athymic mice with established i.c. A431 human epidermoid carcinoma expressing EGFR increased median survival by 88% (P = 0.009) and 105% (P < 0.001), respectively. Additionally, there was no evidence of systemic or CNS toxicity. However, ZD1839 failed to inhibit either s.c. or i.c. in vivo tumor growth when tumorigenicity was conferred by EGFRvIII. Western blotting revealed that treatment with ZD1839 virtually ablated phosphorylation of EGFR Tyr-1173 in A431 tumors. However, treatment of NR6M tumors with ZD1839 only partially decreased phosphorylation of EGFRvIII Tyr-1173 while up-regulating overall expression, suggesting that EGFRvIII may not be susceptible to the same molecular mechanisms of tyrosine kinase inhibition as EGFR. In conclusion, ZD1839 is active in a brain tumor model expressing EGFR, but not EGFRvIII, as EGFR mutations may lead to relative therapeutic resistance. On the basis of these observations, we believe that clinical trials of ZD1839 against brain tumors expressing EGFR are warranted, but that special consideration should be given to tumors that coexpress EGFRvIII.

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