Treatment of epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor-induced acneiform eruption with topical recombinant human epidermal growth factor

Dermatology. 2012;225(2):135-40. doi: 10.1159/000342203. Epub 2012 Sep 21.


Background: Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors have been used as anticancer agents for the treatment of a variety of solid tumors. Related skin toxicities are the most common adverse effects and occur with all EGFR inhibitors. Several treatment approaches, such as antiseptic soaps, topical and oral antibiotics, and topical and oral corticosteroids, have been reported; however, the responses have been varied. Acneiform eruption induced by EGFR inhibitor treatment results from disturbed normal keratinocyte and hair follicle biology and may therefore benefit from local restoration of EGF pathway.

Observations: We treated HaCaT cells with EGFR inhibitor and evaluated the expression of EGFR. After treatment of cells with EGFR inhibitor, EGFR expression was increased in a dose-dependent manner. We hypothesized that newly synthesized EGFR, not inhibited by EGFR inhibitors, may perform their biological action in keratinocytes in the presence of additional EGF. In this study, we therefore treated acneiform eruption patients with topical recombinant human EGF (rhEGF) with institutional review board approval. Here, we report three cases of such eruptions who responded to topical rhEGF.

Conclusion: Topical rhEGF may be an effective treatment option for EGFR inhibitor-induced acneiform eruption.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acneiform Eruptions / chemically induced
  • Acneiform Eruptions / drug therapy*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy
  • Drug Eruptions / drug therapy
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / therapeutic use*
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Gefitinib
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quinazolines / adverse effects*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Quinazolines
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Gefitinib