Selective tyrosine kinase inhibitors are regarded as promising antitumor agents for cancer treatment. Iressa (ZD1839) is an orally active, selective EGFR-TKI (epidermal growth factor receptor-tyrosine kinase inhibitor) that blocks signal transduction pathways implicated in cancer cell proliferation, survival and other host-dependent processes promoting cancer growth. The cellular mechanisms of ZD1839 action against human malignant cells and drug-resistant cells were evaluated in vitro. Among the cell lines tested, ZD1839 showed a strong growth-inhibitory effect in vitro on human leukemic cells resistant to phorbol ester. This cell line, K562/TPA, shows a non-P-glycoprotein-mediated multidrug-resistant phenotype. The IC50 value of ZD1839 on K562/TPA was approximately 400-fold lower than that on the parental K562 cell (K562 = 12 +/- 2 microM; K562/TPA = 0.025 +/- 0.002 microM) in vitro as determined by a dye formation assay. The expression of EGFR and EGFR mRNA was clearly present in K562/TPA but not in parental K562 cells as determined by Western blotting and RT-PCR. EGFR was autophosphorylated in K562/TPA detected by the antiphosphotyrosine antibody. The in vivo antitumor effects of ZD1839 on K562 and K562/TPA cells were also investigated in BALB/c nude mice. K562/TPA cells transplanted subcutaneously into mice disappeared completely with ZD1839 treatment (20 mg/kg/day, days 3-9). This was not the case in K562 cells. These results suggest that ZD1839 is highly active against tumor cells with non-P-glycoprotein-mediated multidrug resistance that express EGFR. Iressa is a trademark of AstraZeneca (Cheshire, UK).
Copyright 2001 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.