EGFR/HER2 inhibitor AEE788 increases ER-mediated transcription in HER2/ER-positive breast cancer cells but functions synergistically with endocrine therapy

A H Evans, S Pancholi, I Farmer, A Thornhill, D B Evans, S R Johnston, M Dowsett, L-A Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Cross-talk between receptor tyrosine kinases and the oestrogen receptor (ER) is implicated in resistance to endocrine therapy. We investigated whether AEE788 (a combined inhibitor of EGFR, HER2 and VEGFR) plus tamoxifen or letrozole enhanced the individual anti-tumour effects of these agents.

METHODS: Breast cancer cell lines modelling endocrine-resistant and -sensitive disease were engineered to express aromatase (A) and examined using proliferation, western blotting and ER-alpha transcription assays.

RESULTS: AEE788 enhanced the anti-proliferative effect of tamoxifen and letrozole in ER(+) cell lines (MCF-7 2A, ZR75.1 A3 and BT474 A3). This associated with an elevated G1 arrest and nuclear accumulation of p27. It is noteworthy that AEE788 alone or in combination with endocrine therapy increased the expression of progesterone receptor (PGR) and TFF1 in BT474 A3 cells. This may indicate a mechanism of resistance to AEE788 in ER(+)/HER2(+) breast cancers. In a ZR75.1 A3 xenograft, AEE788 alone or in combination with tamoxifen provided no further benefit compared with letrozole. However, letrozole plus AEE788 produced a significantly greater inhibition of tumour growth compared with letrozole alone.

CONCLUSION: These data suggest that AEE788 plus letrozole in breast cancer overexpressing HER2 may provide superior anti-tumour activity, compared with single agents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1235-43
Number of pages9
JournalFamilial Cancer
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2010


  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols
  • Aromatase
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cytoprotection
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Drug Synergism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent
  • Nitriles
  • Purines
  • Receptor, Epidermal Growth Factor
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Tamoxifen
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Transfection
  • Triazoles
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays

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