Combined targeting of EGFR and HER2 against prostate cancer stem cells.

Anna Rossini, Marta Giussani, Francesca Ripamonti, Piera Aiello, Viola Regondi, Andrea Balsari, Tiziana Triulzi, Elda Tagliabue

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Progression of prostate cancer has been associated with EGFR and HER2 activation and to tumor-initiating cells contribution toward chemotherapy resistance. We investigated the efficacy of a dual intervention against EGFR and HER2 to deplete the tumor-initiating cells, optimize the chemotherapy management and prevent the progression of castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) cells. Using DU145, PC3, and 22Rv1 CRPC cell lines, biochemical analysis revealed activation of EGFR, HER2, MAPK, and STAT3 in DU145 and 22Rv1, and AKT and SRC in DU145 and PC-3. pSTAT3 nuclear staining was observed in DU145 xenografts and in 12 out of 14 CRPC specimens. The in vivo dual targeting of ErbB receptors with Cetuximab and Trastuzumab combined with chemotherapy caused an effective antitumor response in DU145 xenografted mice displaying STAT3 activation; conversely PC-3 bearing mice experienced tumor relapse. The potentiating of in vivo cytotoxic effect in DU145 model was accompanied by a significant decrease of prostatosphere-forming capacity assessed in vitro on residual tumor cells. Additionally, combined treatment in vitro with Cetuximab, Trastuzumab and chemotherapy negatively affected DU145 and 22Rv1 sphere formation, suggesting the critical function of ErbB receptors for tumor-initiating cells proliferation; no effect on PC-3 clonogenic potential was observed, indicating that other receptors than EGFR and HER2 may sustain PC3 tumor-initiating cells. These findings provided the preclinical evidence that the dual inhibition of EGFR and HER2 by targeting tumor-initiating cells may improve the efficacy of the current chemotherapy regimen, bringing benefits especially to castration-resistant patients with activated STAT3, and preventing disease progression.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCancer Biology and Therapy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2020


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