Cetuximab Inhibits T790M-Mediated Resistance to Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor in a Lung Adenocarcinoma Patient-Derived Xenograft Mouse Model

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Abstract

Micro-Abstract

The T790M (amino acid substitution at position 790 in EGFR from threonine [T] to methionine [M]) mutation in non–small-cell lung cancer results in resistance to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy. Using a patient-derived xenograft model containing an EGFR exon 19/T790M mutation, we showed that treatment with cetuximab induced a dramatic tumor response. EGFR ligand expression suggested a role for an autocrine feedback loop in the mutant EGFR signaling pathway.

Background:

The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) kinase domain T790M (amino acid substitution at position 790 in EGFR from threonine [T] to methionine [M]) mutation in non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) results in resistance to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). We used a patient-derived tumor xenograft (PDX) model containing an EGFR exon 19 deletion/T790M mutation to assess response to the EGFR-directed antibody cetuximab. Changes in the EGFR signaling pathway and ligand expression after treatment were investigated.

Methods:

PDX were randomized into control and treatment arms. Pharmacodynamic studies were performed at 2 and 24 hours and at 4 days after a single administration of cetuximab, erlotinib, or dacomitinib. Changes in the EGFR signaling pathway were assessed using Western blot analysis, and baseline mRNA expression of EGFR ligands using microarray analysis. Relative changes after treatment were assessed using quantitative polymerase chain reaction.

Results:

The xenograft showed a dramatic response to cetuximab. A complete reduction of total EGFR and phosphorylated EGFR occurred after cetuximab treatment. The PDX had increased baseline levels of heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor (HB-EGF) compared with other PDX models with or without EGFR mutations. Amphiregulin was significantly reduced 2 hours after treatment with cetuximab. Compared with control mice, cetuximab- and EGFR–TKI-treated mice had significantly reduced HB-EGF gene expression at 2 hours, however, by day 4 the level of HB-EGF expression was higher. The effect of cetuximab compared with EGFR TKI on HB-EGF gene expression levels differed significantly at 2 and 24 hours but not at 4 days.

Conclusion:

We showed a dramatic tumor response with cetuximab in an exon 19 deletion/T790M EGFR mutant lung adenocarcinoma PDX model, which suggests a role for the autocrine feedback loop in the mutant EGFR signaling pathway. Further investigation using cetuximab in NSCLC with T790M mutation is warranted.

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