Trastuzumab-resistant breast cancer cells-derived tumor xenograft models exhibit distinct sensitivity to lapatinib treatment in vivo

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Biological Procedures Online


Background: Resistance to HER2-targeted therapies, including the monoclonal antibody trastuzumab and tyrosine kinase inhibitor lapatinib, frequently occurs and currently represents a significant clinical challenge in the management of HER2-positive breast cancer. We previously showed that the trastuzumab-resistant SKBR3-pool2 and BT474-HR20 sublines were refractory to lapatinib in vitro as compared to the parental SKBR3 and BT474 cells, respectively. The in vivo efficacy of lapatinib against trastuzumab-resistant breast cancer remained unclear. Results: In tumor xenograft models, both SKBR3-pool2- and BT474-HR20-derived tumors retained their resistance phenotype to trastuzumab; however, those tumors responded differently to the treatment with lapatinib. While lapatinib markedly suppressed growth of SKBR3-pool2-derived tumors, it slightly attenuated BT474-HR20 tumor growth. Immunohistochemistry analyses revealed that lapatinib neither affected the expression of HER3, nor altered the levels of phosphorylated HER3 and FOXO3a in vivo. Interestingly, lapatinib treatment significantly increased the levels of phosphorylated Akt and upregulated the expression of insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS1) in the tumors-derived from BT474-HR20, but not SKBR3-pool2 cells. Conclusions: Our data indicated that SKBR3-pool2-derived tumors were highly sensitive to lapatinib treatment, whereas BT474-HR20 tumors exhibited resistance to lapatinib. It seemed that the inefficacy of lapatinib against BT474-HR20 tumors in vivo was attributed to lapatinib-induced upregulation of IRS1 and activation of Akt. Thus, the tumor xenograft models-derived from SKBR3-pool2 and BT474-HR20 cells serve as an excellent in vivo system to test the efficacy of other HER2-targeted therapies and novel agents to overcome trastuzumab resistance against HER2-positive breast cancer.

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