Epidermal growth factor receptor double targeting by a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (Iressa) and a monoclonal antibody (Cetuximab). Impact on cell growth and molecular factors

Br J Cancer. 2005 Mar 28;92(6):1063-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6602428.


Among the recent advances in the molecular targeted therapy of cancer, the applications focused on epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) are currently the most promising and the most advanced at clinical level. In view of the different modes of action of monoclonal antibodies and tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI), it is tempting to examine the effect of a combination between these two EGFR targeting approaches. It was the purpose of the present study to test this combination at experimental level by using two epidermoid human cell lines CAL 33 and CAL 39. As C225 (Cetuximab) and ZD1839 (Iressa) are, respectively, the most clinically advanced drugs in the category of anti-EGFR drugs, the experiments were performed using these two representative compounds. The combination of C225 and ZD1839 was antagonistic whatever the cell line considered. These antagonistic effects were corroborated by molecular changes in apoptosis (PARP) and EGFR signalling (phospho-p42-44). Drugs alone led to a diminution in EGFR levels, while their combination increased the cellular expression in EGFR. These data suggest that new and tempting treatment strategies on the EGFR target consisting in a double hit with a monoclonal antibody and a TKI must be considered with caution.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cetuximab
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Gefitinib
  • Humans
  • Quinazolines / pharmacology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Quinazolines
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Cetuximab
  • Gefitinib