Dual EGFR/HER2 inhibition sensitizes prostate cancer cells to androgen withdrawal by suppressing ErbB3

Liqun Chen, Benjamin A. Mooso, Maitreyee K. Jathal, Anisha Madhav, Sherra D. Johnson, Elyse Van Spyk, Margarita Mikhailova, Alexandra Zierenberg-Ripoll, Lingru Xue, Ruth Louise Vinall, Ralph W deVere White, Paramita M Ghosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Purpose: Patients with recurrent prostate cancer are commonly treated with androgen withdrawal therapy (AWT); however, almost all patients eventually progress to castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), indicating failure of AWT to eliminate androgen-sensitive prostate cancer. The overall goal of these studies is to determine whether dual inhibition of the receptor tyrosine kinases epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and HER2 would prolong the effectiveness of this treatment in prostate cancer. Experimental Design: We used androgen-dependent LNCaP cells and its CRPC sublines LNCaP-AI and C4-2. Additional data were collected in pRNS-1-1 cells stably expressing a mutant androgen receptor (ART877A), and in nude mice harboring CWR22 tumors. Studies utilized EGFR inhibitors erlotinib and AG1478, and HER2 inhibitors trastuzumab and AG879. Results: Dual EGFR/HER2 inhibition induced apoptosis selectively in androgen-sensitive prostate cancer cells undergoing AWT, but not in the presence of androgens, or in CRPC cells. We show that AWT alone failed to induce significant apoptosis in androgen-dependent cells, due to AWT-induced increase in HER2 and ErbB3, which promoted survival by increasing Akt phosphorylation. AWT-induced ErbB3 stabilized the AR and stimulated PSA, while it was inactivated only by inhibition of both its dimerization partners EGFR and HER2 (prostate cancer cells do not express ErbB4); but not the inhibition of any one receptor alone, explaining the success of dual EGFR/HER2 inhibition in sensitizing androgen-dependent cells to AWT. The effectiveness of the inhibitors in suppressing growth correlated with its ability to prevent Akt phosphorylation. Conclusion: These studies indicate that dual EGFR/HER2 inhibition, administered together with AWT, sensitize prostate cancer cells to apoptosis during AWT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6218-6228
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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