Met activation by gene amplification and its ligand, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), imparts resistance to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in EGFR-mutant lung cancer. We recently reported that Met activation by HGF stimulates the production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and facilitates angiogenesis, which indicates that HGF induces EGFR-TKI resistance and angiogenesis. This study aimed to determine the effect of triple inhibition of EGFR, Met, and angiogenesis on HGF-triggered EGFR-TKI resistance in EGFR-mutant lung cancer.
Three clinically approved drugs, erlotinib (an EGFR inhibitor), crizotinib (an inhibitor of anaplastic lymphoma kinase and Met), and bevacizumab (anti-VEGF antibody), and TAS-115, a novel dual TKI for Met and VEGF receptor 2, were used in this study. EGFR-mutant lung cancer cell lines PC-9, HCC827, and HGF-gene–transfected PC-9 (PC-9/HGF) cells were examined.
Crizotinib and TAS-115 inhibited Met phosphorylation and reversed erlotinib resistance and VEGF production triggered by HGF in PC-9 and HCC827 cells in vitro. Bevacizumab and TAS-115 inhibited angiogenesis in PC-9/HGF tumors in vivo. Moreover, the triplet erlotinib, crizotinib, and bevacizumab, or the doublet erlotinib and TAS-115 successfully inhibited PC-9/HGF tumor growth and delayed tumor regrowth associated with sustained tumor vasculature inhibition even after cessation of the treatment.
These results suggest that triple inhibition of EGFR, HGF/Met, and VEGF/VEGF receptor 2, by either a triplet of clinical drugs or TAS-115 combined with erlotinib, may be useful for controlling progression of EGFR-mutant lung cancer by reversing EGFR-TKI resistance and for inhibiting angiogenesis.