Purpose: We determined the sequence specific efficacy of gefitinib and docetaxel treatment for bladder cancer. This combination was selected because it is currently under study in a phase II clinical trial.
Materials and methods: In vitro antiproliferative effects of gefitinib, docetaxel and a combination were determined in the 4 bladder cancer cell lines 253J B-V, UM-UC-3, KU-7 and UM-UC-13 by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assay. Cell cycle analysis was analyzed using flow cytometry and propidium iodide labeling. Epidermal growth factor receptor downstream signaling was assessed by Western blot analysis. In vivo nude mice were injected subcutaneously with 253J B-V cells and treated with placebo, gefitinib, docetaxel, docetaxel followed by gefitinib or gefitinib followed by docetaxel. Tumor kinetics were established.
Results: Gefitinib demonstrated antiproliferative effect against 253J B-V cells (50% inhibitory concentration less than 0.5 muM) but no apoptotic effect in vitro, whereas docetaxel demonstrated antiproliferative and apoptotic effects. When gefitinib and docetaxel were combined, gefitinib enhanced the apoptotic and antiproliferative effects of docetaxel only when gefitinib was administered following docetaxel pretreatment. Apoptosis increased from 45% to 66%. In vivo there were significant differences in tumor weight in mice treated with combination therapy vs gefitinib or docetaxel alone. Importantly improved efficacy was observed when docetaxel was followed by gefitinib administration compared with gefitinib followed by docetaxel (mean tumor weight 42 vs 93 mg, p = 0.022). Sequence specific efficacy was not observed in UM-UC-3, UM-UC-13 and KU-7 cells, which are resistant to gefitinib.
Conclusions: Docetaxel followed by gefitinib demonstrated sequence specific efficacy against gefitinib sensitive bladder cancer compared with gefitinib followed by docetaxel or either drug alone. Accordingly gefitinib administration concurrently or after chemotherapy might be the sequence of choice and it should be considered for future clinical trials.