Purpose: We have shown that incomplete blockade of the human epidermal growth factor (HER) pathway is a mechanism of resistance to treatment with trastuzumab (T) in HER2-overexpressing tumor xenografts. We now investigate whether the addition of lapatinib (L), a dual HER1/2 kinase inhibitor, to T results in more potent inhibition of the pathway and therefore inhibition of tumor growth, and whether reduced dose and intermittent treatment with the combination is equally effective.
Experimental design: Nude mice bearing HER2-overexpressing MCF7/HER2-18 or BT-474 xenograft tumors were treated with L and T, alone or in various combinations with other HER inhibitors. L + T for short duration (14 and 42 days), intermittent administration (14 days on/off), and reduced dosing (half dose) was also investigated. Inhibition of tumor growth, downstream signaling, proliferation, and induction of apoptosis were assessed. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results: L + T was the most effective regimen in both MCF7/HER2-18 and BT-474 xenografts with complete regression (CR) of tumor observed in all mice. Intermittent and reduced dose treatment (½ dose) resulted in high rates of CR and low rates of tumor recurrence that were comparable to full dose continuous treatment. L + T resulted in significantly reduced downstream signaling and proliferation, and increased apoptosis.
Conclusions: L + T is a potent and effective combination even when given in reduced dose or intermittent schedule potentially resulting in lower toxicity and reduced cost if translated to patients. These findings warrant timely clinical testing.