Inhibition of insulin receptor isoform-A signalling restores sensitivity to gefitinib in previously de novo resistant colon cancer cells

Br J Cancer. 2006 Jul 17;95(2):172-80. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6603237. Epub 2006 Jul 4.


Resistance to antiepidermal growth factor (EGFR) strategies is an emerging clinical problem. Using human colorectal cancer (CRC) cells, we evaluated the involvement of the insulin receptor isoform-A (InsR-A) in de novo resistance to gefitinib, an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Challenging the EGFR positive LoVo cells with gefitinib (1 microM) resulted in a small ( approximately 18%) inhibition of cell growth and although a modest reduction in phospho (p)EGFR Tyr845 was seen, pEGFR at residues -Tyr1068 and -Tyr1173 were unchanged. LoVo cells produced unprocessed pro-IGF-1R protein, substantial levels of IGF-II mRNA and mature InsR protein, consisting mainly of the InsR-A isoform. Insulin and IGF-II promoted cell growth and pEGFR Tyr845, Tyr1068 and Tyr1173 activity and conversely, the insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R)/InsR inhibitor ABDP (1 muM) inhibited growth and reduced pEGFR activity at all three tyrosine residues. pInsR and pAkt levels were increased after gefitinib treatment. Blocking of pInsR with ABDP enabled gefitinib to markedly reduce pEGFR Tyr845, Tyr1068 and Tyr1173. Short-term gefitinib/ABDP dual treatment was more effective than either agent alone and chronic exposure to this combination resulted in total cell loss after 9 weeks, preventing acquisition of resistance to ABDP. LoVo cells with acquired resistance to ABDP were acutely sensitive to gefitinib. We concluded that InsR-A reduces sensitivity to gefitinib in LoVo CRC cells, thus its co-targeting alongside EGFR can improve the anti-tumour effect of gefitinib.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Diphosphonates / pharmacology
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm* / drug effects
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism
  • Gefitinib
  • Humans
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / pharmacology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Isoforms / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protein Isoforms / biosynthesis
  • Quinazolines / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / biosynthesis
  • Receptor, Insulin / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptor, Insulin / biosynthesis
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • 4-amino-1-hydroxybutylidene-1,1-diphosphonate
  • Diphosphonates
  • Insulin
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Quinazolines
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1
  • Receptor, Insulin
  • Gefitinib