Vandetanib inhibits cell growth in EGFR-expressing cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2020 Oct 20;531(3):396-401. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2020.07.111. Epub 2020 Aug 14.


Advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) responds poorly to chemotherapy, leading to significant morbidity or death. Overexpression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is frequently observed in advanced cutaneous SCC. Vandetanib is a multiple tyrosine kinase targeting vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 (VEGFR2), EGFR, and the rearranged during transfection (RET) proto-oncogene. Vandetanib has been reported to inhibit tumor growth in head and neck SCC. However, the efficacy of vandetanib against cutaneous SCC has not been thoroughly investigated. The aim of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of vandetanib against cutaneous SCC in vitro and in vivo. Vandetanib is found to inhibit the proliferation of cutaneous SCC cells as assessed by cell viability and clonogenic assay. Cell death analysis indicates that vandetanib induces cell death in SCC cells but not in normal human keratinocytes or fibroblasts. The in vivo anti-tumor effect of vandetanib is shown in xenograft tumor models using A431 SCC cells. Mechanistically, vandetanib suppresses the phosphorylation of EGFR in SCC cells. Clinically, EGFR expression levels are elevated in cutaneous SCC specimens, relative to normal epidermis. In conclusion, we identified vandetanib as a novel therapeutic option for cutaneous SCC, especially in tumors with high EGFR expression.

Keywords: Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR); Keratinocyte; Rearranged during transfection (RET); Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC); Vandetanib.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Piperidines / administration & dosage
  • Piperidines / pharmacology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • Quinazolines / administration & dosage
  • Quinazolines / pharmacology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*


  • MAS1 protein, human
  • Piperidines
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • Quinazolines
  • ErbB Receptors
  • vandetanib