Epidermal growth factor receptor blockade potentiates apoptosis mediated by paclitaxel and leads to prolonged survival in a murine model of oral cancer

F. Christopher Holsinger, Dao D. Doan, Samar A. Jasser, Eric A. Swan, Jayson S. Greenberg, Bradley A. Schiff, B. Nebiyou Bekele, Maher N. Younes, Corazon D. Bucana, Isaiah J. Fidler, Jeffrey N. Myers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Purpose: Because survival for patients with oral cancer has not improved over the past 25 years, new approaches for treatment are needed. Targeted molecular therapy against epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) has shown promise as an adjuvant therapy in preliminary studies in several solid tumors, including head and neck cancer. The objective of this study was to determine the efficacy of paclitaxel and PKI166, a novel inhibitor of EGFR, against oral cavity cancer. Experimental Design and Results: JMAR human oral cancer cells were pretreated for 1 h with PKI166 and then stimulated with epidermal growth factor. EGFR-specific tyrosine kinase autophosphorylation measured by Western immunoblotting was inhibited by PKI166 in a dose-dependent fashion at all doses tested (0.01-1 μM). Next, the induction of apoptosis in JMAR cells treated with paclitaxel (0.001 to 0.1 μM) with or without PKI166 (0, 1, or 2 μM) was determined using a propidium iodide assay. The addition of 2.0 μM PKI166 significantly increased tumor cell death, shifting the amount of paclitaxel needed to induce apoptosis in 50% of cells from 0.1 to 0.001 μM. These in vitro findings were confirmed using an orthotopic model of oral cancer. JMAR oral cancer cells were implanted into the tongues of nude mice. After lingual tumors developed, mice were randomized into four groups (n = 10): (a) oral PKI166 (100 mg/kg); (b) i.p. paclitaxel (200 μg/wk); (c) PKI166 and paclitaxel; or (d) placebo. Mice treated with PKI166/paclitaxel demonstrated a significant increase in survival (P = 0.028). After necropsy, all tongue tumors were evaluated for apoptosis by the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated nick end labeling assay. A greater apoptotic fraction of tumor cells was found in tumors of mice treated with paclitaxel and PKI166 as compared with the other treatment groups (136.4 versus 37.8; P = 0.016). Conclusions: Combination therapy with paclitaxel and PKI166 prolongs survival in an orthotopic preclinical model of tongue cancer by increasing programmed cell death of oral cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3183-3189
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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