Objectives: Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK), such as c-Met and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), are implicated in the malignant progression of glioblastoma. Studies show that RTK systems can co-modulate distinct and overlapping oncogenic downstream signaling pathways. EGFRvIII, a constitutively activated EGFR deletion mutant variant, leads to increased tumor growth and diminishes the tumor growth response to HGF: c-Met pathway inhibitor therapy. Conversely, activation of the c-Met pathway diminishes the tumor growth response to EGFR pathway inhibitors. Previously we reported that EGFRvIII and c-Met pathway inhibitors synergize to inhibit tumor growth in isogenic GBM cell lines engineered to express EGFRvIII. More recently, studies suggest that despite targeting RTK signaling in glioblastoma multiforme, a subpopulation of stem-like tumor-propagating cells can persist to replenish the tumor cell population leading to tumor recurrence.
Patients and methods: Mayo 39 and Mayo 59 xenograft lines were cultured and xenografts were maintained. Subcutaneous xenograft lines were serially passaged in nude mice to generate subcutaneous xenografts. Xenografts were implanted in 6-8 week old nude mice. Once tumors reached a substantial size (150 mm3), mice were randomly divided into 4 groups: 1) control vehicle, 2) Crizotinib (crizo), 3) Erlotinib (erlot), or 4) Crizotinib + Erlotinib, (n = 5 per group).
Results: Crizotinib (c-Met pathway inhibitor) and Erlotinib (EGFR pathway inhibitor) in combination significantly inhibited tumor growth, phospho-EGFRvIII, phospho-Met, phospho-AKT, phospho-MAPK, and neurosphere growth in Mayo 39 and Mayo 59 primary GBM subcutaneous xenografts. The expression of the stem cell markers Nestin, Musashi, Olig 2 and Sox2 were also significantly down-regulated by c-Met inhibition, but no additive down-regulation was seen by co-treatment with Erlotinib.
Conclusions: These results are consistent with and corroborate our previous findings demonstrating that targeting these two parallel pathways with c-Met and EGFR inhibitor therapy provides substantial anti-tumor activity in glioblastoma models.
Keywords: Crizotinib; Epidermal growth factor receptor; Erlotinib; Glioblastoma; Primary xenograft; c-Met.
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