Purpose: The use of cetuximab in the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer is limited by development of resistance. Experimental Design: We have investigated in three models of highly epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-dependent colorectal cancer xenografts, the effect of maintenance therapy with different kinase inhibitors alone or in combination with cetuximab, after cytotoxic treatment induction with irinotecan plus cetuximab. Results: SW48, LIM 1215, and GEO colorectal cancer cell lines were engrafted into nude mice and treated for 3 weeks with irinotecan and/or cetuximab. The combined treatment induced a significant reduction of tumor size. A subsequent experiment was performed in all three xenograft models in which after an induction treatment with irinotecan plus cetuximab, mice were randomly assigned to one of the following treatments: control, cetuximab, regorafenib, a selective PIK3CA inhibitor (PIK3CAi), a selective MEK inhibitor (MEKi), and /or the combination of each inhibitor with cetuximab. The cetuximab plus MEKi treatment determined the best antitumor activity with suppression of tumor growth. This effect was prolonged for 13 to 15 weeks after cessation of therapy and was accompanied by prolonged survival. Antitumor activity was accompanied by inhibition of the MAPK and MEK pathways. Moreover, in the cetuximab plus MEKi-treated SW48 xenograft group, KRAS mutations as a mechanism of acquired resistance were detected in 25% of cases compared with 75% KRAS mutations in the MEKi-treated group. Conclusions: A possible strategy to prevent and/or overcome resistance to anti-EGFR inhibitors in metastatic colorectal cancer is a maintenance therapy with cetuximab plus MEKi after an initial treatment with irinotecan plus cetuximab.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research