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      A mechanism of resistance to gefitinib mediated by cellular reprogramming and the acquisition of an FGF2-FGFR1 autocrine growth loop

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          Despite initial and often dramatic responses of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-addicted lung tumors to the EGFR-specific tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), gefitinib and erlotinib, nearly all develop resistance and relapse. To explore novel mechanisms mediating acquired resistance, we employed non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines bearing activating mutations in EGFR and rendered them resistant to EGFR-specific TKIs through chronic adaptation in tissue culture. In addition to previously observed resistance mechanisms including EGFR-T790M ‘gate-keeper' mutations and MET amplification, a subset of the seven chronically adapted NSCLC cell lines including HCC4006, HCC2279 and H1650 cells exhibited marked induction of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) 2 and FGF receptor 1 (FGFR1) mRNA and protein. Also, adaptation to EGFR-specific TKIs was accompanied by an epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) as assessed by changes in CDH1, VIM, ZEB1 and ZEB2 expression and altered growth properties in Matrigel. In adapted cell lines exhibiting increased FGF2 and FGFR1 expression, measures of growth and signaling, but not EMT, were blocked by FGFR-specific TKIs, an FGF-ligand trap and FGFR1 silencing with RNAi. In parental HCC4006 cells, cell growth was strongly inhibited by gefitinib, although drug-resistant clones progress within 10 days. Combined treatment with gefitinib and AZD4547, an FGFR-specific TKI, prevented the outgrowth of drug-resistant clones. Thus, induction of FGF2 and FGFR1 following chronic adaptation to EGFR-specific TKIs provides a novel autocrine receptor tyrosine kinase-driven bypass pathway in a subset of lung cancer cell lines that are initially sensitive to EGFR-specific TKIs. The findings support FGFR-specific TKIs as potentially valuable additions to existing targeted therapeutic strategies with EGFR-specific TKIs to prevent or delay acquired resistance in EGFR-driven NSCLC.

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          Activating mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor underlying responsiveness of non-small-cell lung cancer to gefitinib.

          Most patients with non-small-cell lung cancer have no response to the tyrosine kinase inhibitor gefitinib, which targets the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). However, about 10 percent of patients have a rapid and often dramatic clinical response. The molecular mechanisms underlying sensitivity to gefitinib are unknown. We searched for mutations in the EGFR gene in primary tumors from patients with non-small-cell lung cancer who had a response to gefitinib, those who did not have a response, and those who had not been exposed to gefitinib. The functional consequences of identified mutations were evaluated after the mutant proteins were expressed in cultured cells. Somatic mutations were identified in the tyrosine kinase domain of the EGFR gene in eight of nine patients with gefitinib-responsive lung cancer, as compared with none of the seven patients with no response (P<0.001). Mutations were either small, in-frame deletions or amino acid substitutions clustered around the ATP-binding pocket of the tyrosine kinase domain. Similar mutations were detected in tumors from 2 of 25 patients with primary non-small-cell lung cancer who had not been exposed to gefitinib (8 percent). All mutations were heterozygous, and identical mutations were observed in multiple patients, suggesting an additive specific gain of function. In vitro, EGFR mutants demonstrated enhanced tyrosine kinase activity in response to epidermal growth factor and increased sensitivity to inhibition by gefitinib. A subgroup of patients with non-small-cell lung cancer have specific mutations in the EGFR gene, which correlate with clinical responsiveness to the tyrosine kinase inhibitor gefitinib. These mutations lead to increased growth factor signaling and confer susceptibility to the inhibitor. Screening for such mutations in lung cancers may identify patients who will have a response to gefitinib. Copyright 2004 Massachusetts Medical Society
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            EGFR mutations in lung cancer: correlation with clinical response to gefitinib therapy.

            Receptor tyrosine kinase genes were sequenced in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and matched normal tissue. Somatic mutations of the epidermal growth factor receptor gene EGFR were found in 15of 58 unselected tumors from Japan and 1 of 61 from the United States. Treatment with the EGFR kinase inhibitor gefitinib (Iressa) causes tumor regression in some patients with NSCLC, more frequently in Japan. EGFR mutations were found in additional lung cancer samples from U.S. patients who responded to gefitinib therapy and in a lung adenocarcinoma cell line that was hypersensitive to growth inhibition by gefitinib, but not in gefitinib-insensitive tumors or cell lines. These results suggest that EGFR mutations may predict sensitivity to gefitinib.
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              Gefitinib or chemotherapy for non-small-cell lung cancer with mutated EGFR.

              Non-small-cell lung cancer with sensitive mutations of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is highly responsive to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors such as gefitinib, but little is known about how its efficacy and safety profile compares with that of standard chemotherapy. We randomly assigned 230 patients with metastatic, non-small-cell lung cancer and EGFR mutations who had not previously received chemotherapy to receive gefitinib or carboplatin-paclitaxel. The primary end point was progression-free survival; secondary end points included overall survival, response rate, and toxic effects. In the planned interim analysis of data for the first 200 patients, progression-free survival was significantly longer in the gefitinib group than in the standard-chemotherapy group (hazard ratio for death or disease progression with gefitinib, 0.36; P<0.001), resulting in early termination of the study. The gefitinib group had a significantly longer median progression-free survival (10.8 months, vs. 5.4 months in the chemotherapy group; hazard ratio, 0.30; 95% confidence interval, 0.22 to 0.41; P<0.001), as well as a higher response rate (73.7% vs. 30.7%, P<0.001). The median overall survival was 30.5 months in the gefitinib group and 23.6 months in the chemotherapy group (P=0.31). The most common adverse events in the gefitinib group were rash (71.1%) and elevated aminotransferase levels (55.3%), and in the chemotherapy group, neutropenia (77.0%), anemia (64.6%), appetite loss (56.6%), and sensory neuropathy (54.9%). One patient receiving gefitinib died from interstitial lung disease. First-line gefitinib for patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer who were selected on the basis of EGFR mutations improved progression-free survival, with acceptable toxicity, as compared with standard chemotherapy. (UMIN-CTR number, C000000376.) 2010 Massachusetts Medical Society

                Author and article information

                Nature Publishing Group
                March 2013
                25 March 2013
                1 March 2013
                : 2
                : 3
                : e39
                [1 ]Department of Craniofacial Biology, School of Dental Medicine, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus , Aurora, CO, USA
                [2 ]Department of Medicine, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus , Aurora, CO, USA
                [3 ]Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus , Aurora, CO, USA
                Author notes
                [* ]Department of Craniofacial Biology, School of Dental Medicine, University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus , Mail Stop 8120, PO Box 6511, Aurora, CO 80045, USA. E-mail: Lynn.Heasley@
                Copyright © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit

                Original Article

                Oncology & Radiotherapy

                nsclc, acquired resistance, fgf2, fgfr1, egfr, gefitinib


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