Short preoperative treatment with erlotinib inhibits tumor cell proliferation in hormone receptor-positive breast cancers

Marta Guix, Nara De Matos Granja, Ingrid Meszoely, Theresa B. Adkins, Bobbye M. Wieman, Kerek E. Frierson, Violeta Sanchez, Melinda E. Sanders, Ana M. Grau, Ingrid A. Mayer, Gary Pestano, Yu Shyr, Senthil Muthuswamy, Benjamin Calvo, Helen Krontiras, Ian E. Krop, Mark C. Kelley, Carlos L. Arteaga

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95 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To administer the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor erlotinib to patients with operable untreated breast cancer during the immediate preoperative period and to measure an antiproliferative and/or a proapoptotic effect in the post-therapy specimen and determine a biomarker profile associated with evidence of erlotinib-mediated cellular activity. Patients and Methods: Newly diagnosed patients with stages I to IIIA invasive breast cancer were treated with erlotinib 150 mg/d orally for 6 to 14 days until the day before surgery. Erlotinib plasma levels were measured by tandem mass spectrometry the day of surgery. Drug-induced changes in tumor cell proliferation and apoptosis were assessed by Ki67 immunohistochemistry and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate-biotin nick-end labeling analysis, respectively, in biopsies from the pretherapy and surgical specimens. Biopsies were also evaluated for P-EGFR, P-HER-2, P-MAPK, P-Akt, P-S6, and S118 P-ERα. Results: In drug-sensitive PC9 xenografts, 5 days of treatment with erlotinib were enough to induce a maximal inhibition of cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis. Forty-one patients completed preoperative treatment with erlotinib. Grade ≤ 2 rash and diarrhea were the main toxicities. Erlotinib inhibited tumor cell proliferation (Ki67), P-EGFR, and P-HER-2. The inhibition of proliferation occurred in estrogen receptor (ER) -positive but not in human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2) -positive or triple-negative cancers. Treatment was associated with a significant reduction of P-MAPK, P-Akt, P-S6, and S118 P-ERα in hormone receptor-positive cancers. Conclusion: A presurgical approach to evaluate cellular responses to new drugs is feasible in breast cancer. EGFR inhibitors are worthy of testing against ER-positive breast cancers but are unlikely to have clinical activity against HER-2-positive or triple-negative breast cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)897-906
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Feb 20

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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