Defining the role of the epidermal growth factor receptor in pancreatic cancer grown in vitro

Am J Surg. 2003 Nov;186(5):431-6. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2003.07.008.


Background: The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of a novel epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, Erlotinib, on pancreatic cancer cell lines of varying differentiation in vitro.

Methods: Six pancreatic cancer cell lines (AsPc-1, CAPAN-1, HPAC, HPAF-II, Mia PaCa-2, PANC-1) were grown in the presence of 50 microM or 100 microM of Erlotinib or recombinant EGF. Cell proliferation was determined using the MTT assay over 72 hours. The EGF receptor gene and protein expression were determined by polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry respectively.

Results: All cell lines demonstrated the presence of the EGF receptor gene and its gene product. Five of six cell lines showed significant growth inhibition at 72 hours compared with controls (P <0.05). The EGF augmentation increased proliferation of each cell line but this increase was only significant in AsPc-1.

Conclusions: Inhibition of EGF receptor is a valid therapeutic strategy in pancreatic cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • ErbB Receptors / physiology*
  • Erlotinib Hydrochloride
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Quinazolines / pharmacology*
  • Time Factors
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Quinazolines
  • Erlotinib Hydrochloride
  • ErbB Receptors