Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most commonly occurring primary liver cancer and ranks as the fifth most frequently occurring cancer, overall, and the third leading cause of cancer deaths, worldwide. At present, effective therapeutic options available for HCC are limited; consequently, the prognosis for these patients is poor. Our aim in the present study was to identify a novel target for antibody therapy against HCC.
Methodology/principal findings: We used Western blot and flow cytometric and immunocytochemical analyses to investigate the regulation of FGFR1 expression by interferon-α/β in several human hepatic cancer cell lines. In addition, we tested the efficacy of combined treatment with anti-FGFR1 monoclonal antibody and interferon-α/β in a murine xenograft model of human HCC. We found that interferon-α/β induces expression of FGFR1 in human HCC cell lines, and that an anti-FGFR1 monoclonal antibody (mAb) targeting of the induced FGFR1 can effectively inhibit growth and survival of HCC cells in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, the combination of interferon-α, anti-FGFR1 mAb and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) exerted a significant antitumor effect in vitro.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that the combined use of an anti-FGFR1 antibody and interferon-α/β is a promising approach to the treatment of HCC.