Antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity of cetuximab against tumor cells with wild-type or mutant epidermal growth factor receptor

Cancer Sci. 2007 Aug;98(8):1275-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.2007.00510.x. Epub 2007 May 13.


Cetuximab (Erbitux, IMC-C225) is a monoclonal antibody targeted to the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). To clarify the mode of antitumor action of cetuximab, we examined antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) activity against several tumor cell lines expressing wild-type or mutant EGFR. ADCC activity and complement-dependent cytolysis activity were analyzed using the CytoTox 96 assay. ADCC activities correlated with the EGFR expression value (R = 0.924). ADCC activities were detected against all tumor cell lines, except K562 cells in a manner dependent on the cellular EGFR expression level, whereas complement-dependent cytolysis activity was not detected in any of the cell lines. The ADCC activity mediated by cetuximab was examined in HEK293 cells transfected with wild-type EGFR (293W) and a deletional mutant of EGFR (293D) in comparison with the mock transfectant (293M). ADCC activity was detected in 293W and 293D cells, in a cetuximab dose-dependent manner, but not in 293M cells (<10%). These results indicate that ADCC-dependent antitumor activity results from the degree of affinity of cetuximab for the extracellular domain of EGFR, independent of EGFR mutation status. These results suggest ADCC activity to be one of the modes of therapeutic action of cetuximab and to depend on EGFR expression on the tumor cell surface.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antibody-Dependent Cell Cytotoxicity*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cetuximab
  • Complement System Proteins
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism*
  • Gefitinib
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Quinazolines / pharmacology
  • Transfection


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Quinazolines
  • Complement System Proteins
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Cetuximab
  • Gefitinib