Differential effects of cetuximab and AEE 788 on epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R) and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGF-R) in thyroid cancer cell lines

S. Hoffmann; A. Burchert; A. Wunderlich; Y. Wang; S. Lingelbach; L. Hofbauer; M. Rothmund; A. Zielke
April 2007
Endocrine (1355008X);Apr2007, Vol. 31 Issue 2, p105
Academic Journal
This study evaluated the role of EGF and the effects of EGF-targeting drugs (Cetuximab, AEE 788) on growth, apoptosis, and autocrine VEGF-secretion of thyroid cancer (TC) cells. Autocrine activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R) is commonly regarded to contribute to the malignant phenotype of TC cells and may therefore represent a rational therapeutic target. Out of a number of TC cell lines two anaplastic (Hth74, C643), one follicular (FTC133), and one papillary thyroid cancer cell line (TPC1) were analyzed in depth for VEGF-R-and EGF-R-expression, basal and EGF-stimulated (1–100 ng/ml) VEGF protein secretion and proliferation. Subsequently the antiprolifereative and antiangiogenic effect of cetuximab (Erbitux®), a monoclonal antibody that blocks the EGF-R and AEE 788, a novel dual-kinase inhibitor of EGF-R and VEGF-R were assessed, and the downstream EGF-R signal transduction was analyzed by means of detecting phosphorylated pEGF-R, pVEGF-R, pAkt, and p-MAPK. EGF stimulated VEGF-mRNA expression and protein secretion in all TC cell lines. The EGF-R antagonist Cetuximab consistently decreased VEGF secretion in all TC cell lines (min. 15%, n.s. in C643 cells and max. 90% in Hth74 cells, P < 0.05), but did not affect tumor cell proliferation in␣vitro. In contrast, the EGF-R- and VEGF-R-kinase inhibitor AEE 788 not only reduced VEGF secretion (min. 55%, P < 0.05 in C643 and max. 75%, P < 0.05, in FTC133), but also exhibited a dose-dependent inhibition of tumor cell proliferation (min. 75%, P < 0.05 in C643 and max. 95%, P < 0.05 in Hth74) and was a potent inductor of apoptosis in two of four TC cell lines. These effects were always accompanied by reduced levels of pEGF-R, pVEGF-R, pAkt, and pMAPK. Although inhibition of the EGF-receptor by Cetuximab potently disrupts autocrine secretion of VEGF, only the concurrent inhibition of the VEGF- and EGF receptor, e.g., by AEE 788 induces reduced proliferation and apoptosis in␣vitro. This suggests a particular rationale for the use of tyrosine kinase inhibitors with dual modes of action such as AEE 788 in thyroid cancer.


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