Background: although trastuzumab has improved the prognosis for HER-2-positive breast cancer patients, not all HER-2-positive breast tumours respond to trastuzumab treatment and those that initially respond frequently develop resistance. Insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF1R) signalling has been previously implicated in trastuzumab resistance. We tested IGF1R inhibition to determine if dual targeting of HER-2 and IGF1R improves response in cell line models of acquired trastuzumab resistance.
Materials and methods: HER-2, IGF1R, phospho-HER-2, and phospho-IGF1R levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays in parental and trastuzumab-resistant SKBR3 and BT474 cells. IGF1R signalling was targeted in these cells using both small interfering RNA (siRNA) and the tyrosine kinase inhibitor, NVP-AEW541.
Results: IGF1R levels were significantly increased in the trastuzumab-resistant model, SKBR3/Tr, compared with the parental SKBR3 cell line. In both the SKBR3/Tr and BT474/Tr cell lines, inhibition of IGF1R expression with siRNA or inhibition of tyrosine kinase activity by NVP-AEW541 significantly increased response to trastuzumab. The dual targeting approach also improved response in the parental SKBR3 cells but not in the BT474 parental cells.
Conclusions: our results confirm that IGF1R inhibition improves response to trastuzumab in HER-2-positive breast cancer cells and suggest that dual targeting of IGF1R and HER-2 may improve response in HER-2-positive tumours.