Purpose: Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is an attractive target for the treatment of urothelial carcinoma, but a clinical response can be expected in only a small proportion of patients. The aim of this study was to define molecular markers of response to cetuximab therapy in a panel of urothelial carcinoma cell lines. Experimental Design: Eleven cell lines were investigated for antiproliferative response to cetuximab based on [ 3H]thymidine incorporation. A variety of markers, including EGFR expression, phosphorylation, and gene amplification, as well as the expression of other growth factor receptors, their ligands, and markers of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition were investigated. Cohen's κ statistic was used to estimate the agreement between response and expression of these markers. E-cadherin was silenced by small interfering RNA in two sensitive cell lines, and the effect on the response to cetuximab was measured. Results: We were able to identify a panel of relevant markers pertaining especially to alternate growth factor receptor expression and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition that predicted response to cetuximab. The data suggested that expression of intact HER-4 (κ, 1.00; P = 0.008), E-cadherin (κ, 0.81; P = 0.015), and β-catenin (κ, 0.81; P = 0.015) and loss of expression of platelet-derived growth factor receptor β (κ, 0.57; P = 0.167) were associated with response to cetuximab therapy. Silencing E-cadherin in two sensitive cell lines reduced responsiveness to cetuximab in both (P < 0.001). Conclusions: A panel of predictive markers for cetuximab response has been established in vitro and is currently being evaluated in a prospective clinical trial of neoadjuvant EGFR-targeted therapy. Most importantly, E-cadherin seems to play a central role in modulation of EGFR response in urothelial carcinoma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research