Preclinical activity of EGFR and MEK1/2 inhibitors in the treatment of biliary tract carcinoma

Giuliana Cavalloni, Caterina Peraldo-Neia, Chiara Varamo, Giovanna Chiorino, Francesco Sassi, Massimo Aglietta, Francesco Leone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biliary tract carcinomas (BTC) are malignant tumors with limited therapeutic options. Clinical experiences with anti-EGFR therapies have produced unsatisfactory results. The strategies of combined inhibition of EGFR and MEK1/2 could be a promising therapeutic option in BTC treatment. Preclinical activity of Panitumumab and Trametinib was tested in in vitro (EGI-1, MT-CHC01 and WITT cells) and in in vivo (xenograft) BTC models with different K-RAS mutational status. Trametinib reduced MAPK phosphorylation in wild type (WT) WITT cells and in both K-RAS mutated cells; in EGI-1 was also able to switch off EGFR activation. Panitumumab reduced the activation of its target only in EGI-1 cells, and of MAPK only in WITT cells. While Trametinib inhibited cell growth in K-RAS mutated cell lines, Panitumumab had no effect on proliferation independently by K-RAS status. The addition of Panitumumab to Trametinib did not significantly potentiate its anti-proliferative effect also in mutated cells. In vivo, Trametinib was able to significantly slow the tumor growth in K-RAS mutated xenograft models, but did not have effect on K-RAS WT cells; the addition of Panitumumab potentiated the Trametinib efficacy in MT-CHC01 and overcame the resistance to the anti-EGFR in WITT cells, in which the monotherapy was ineffective. Only in K-RAS mutated xenografts Trametinib alone or in combination with Panitumumab significantly decreased Ki67 positive cell fraction and CD31 angiogenesis markers. In conclusion, this preclinical study provides a rational to plan clinical trials assessing the efficacy of Trametinib in K-RAS mutated BTC patients and the combination with anti-EGFR in WT BTC patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52354-52363
Number of pages10
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Biliary tract carcinoma
  • K-RAS mutation
  • MEK inhibitor
  • Preclinical models
  • Target therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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