The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family belongs to type I receptor tyrosine kinases. Overexpression or mutation of EGFR/ErbB1 gene has been detected in a large number of human solid tumours. According to some previous report, this gene is not expressed in hematological malignancies. However, two recent clinical case reports showed that erlotinib caused complete remission of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)-M1 in patients who had both AML-M1 and non-small-cell lung cancer. These results are supported by preclinical studies in which EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors have anti-proliferative effects on AML. These findings prompted us to determine whether EGFR is expressed in human AML, through a large-scale screening of both leukaemic cell lines and clinical samples. Our results show that EGFR is expressed by about 33% of human AML (containing M1 to M7 subtypes) and by some human leukaemia cell lines (K562, MEG-01, CEM and SKO-007). Its expression is not limited to certain AML types but has been detected in many leukaemic cells. In addition, EGFR expression was intimately associated with the poor clinical outcomes. Finally, we find that only EGFR-positive leukaemic cells respond to antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity of cetuximab, the monoclonal antibodies against EGFR.
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.