Blockade of IGF-1 receptor tyrosine kinase has antineoplastic effects in hepatocellular carcinoma cells

Biochem Pharmacol. 2006 May 14;71(10):1435-48. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2006.02.006. Epub 2006 Mar 10.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common cancer-related causes of death worldwide. Due to very poor 5-year-survival new therapeutic approaches are mandatory. Most HCCs express insulin-like growth factors and their receptors (IGF-R). As IGF-1R-mediated signaling promotes survival, oncogenic transformation and tumor growth and spread, it represents a potential target for innovative treatment strategies of HCC. Here we studied the antineoplastic effects of inhibiting IGF-1R signaling in HCC cells by the novel IGF-1R tyrosine kinase inhibitor NVP-AEW541.

Methods and results: NVP-AEW541 induced a time- and dose-dependent growth inhibition in the human hepatoblastoma and hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines SK-Hep-1, Hep-3B, Hep-G2 and Huh-7. Measurement of LDH-release showed that the antineoplastic effect of NVP-AEW541 was not due to cytotoxicity. Instead NVP-AEW541 induced apoptosis as evidenced by both caspase-3 and -8 activation as well as by apoptosis-specific morphological and mitochondrial changes. In addition, nuclear degradation was monitored by DNA-laddering. NVP-AEW541-treatment suppressed the expression of the antiapoptotic proteins Bcl-2 and survivin, while the expression of the proapoptotic protein BAX was stimulated in a dose-dependent manner. Moreover, NVP-AEW541 arrested the cell cycle at the G1/S checkpoint. When NVP-AEW541 was combined with cytotoxic chemotherapy or with a specific epidermal growth factor receptor antibody additive antiproliferative effects were observed.

Interpretation: Inhibition of IGF-1R tyrosine kinase (IGF-1R-TK) by NVP-AEW541 induces growth inhibition, apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in human HCC cell lines without accompanying cytotoxicity. Thus, IGF-1R-TK inhibition may be a promising novel treatment approach in HCC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / enzymology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • DNA Fragmentation
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Combinations
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects*
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Hepatocytes / pathology
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Liver Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pyrimidines / pharmacology*
  • Pyrroles / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / genetics
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Drug Combinations
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • NVP-AEW541
  • Pyrimidines
  • Pyrroles
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1