The anti-ErbB2 antibody trastuzumab has shown significant clinical benefits in ErbB2-overexpressing breast and gastric cancer, but resistance to the drug is common. Here, we investigated the antitumor activity of the combination of trastuzumab and the SRC inhibitor saracatinib in ErbB2-overexpressing trastuzumab-resistant gastric cancer. The ErbB2-overexpressing human gastric cancer cell line NCI-N87 was treated with trastuzumab to obtain the trastuzumab-resistant cell line NCI-N87R. The NCI-N87R cell line showed a marked increase in SRC activity and ErbB signaling compared with the NCI-N87 cell line. Our data demonstrated that trastuzumab plus saracatinib was much more potent than either agent alone in reducing the phosphorylation of ErbB3 and AKT in both NCI-N87 and NCI-N87R gastric cancer cell lines. Trastuzumab and saracatinib synergistically inhibited the in vitro growth of NCI-N87 and NCI-N87R cell lines. Further data showed that combination therapy of trastuzumab with saracatinib resulted in a significant benefit over either agent alone in both NCI-N87 and NCI-N87R xenograft models, suggesting its potential use for treating ErbB2-overexpressing gastric cancer.
Keywords: ErbB2; SRC; gastric cancer; saracatinib; trastuzumab.