Research Papers:

Gefitinib or lapatinib with foretinib synergistically induce a cytotoxic effect in melanoma cell lines

Ewelina Dratkiewicz, Katarzyna Pietraszek-Gremplewicz, Aleksandra Simiczyjew, Antonina Joanna Mazur and Dorota Nowak _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:18254-18268. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.24810

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Ewelina Dratkiewicz1, Katarzyna Pietraszek-Gremplewicz1, Aleksandra Simiczyjew1, Antonina Joanna Mazur1 and Dorota Nowak1

1Department of Cell Pathology, Faculty of Biotechnology, University of Wroclaw, Wroclaw, Poland

Correspondence to:

Dorota Nowak, email: [email protected]

Keywords: melanoma; EGFR inhibitor; MET inhibitor; foretinib; lapatinib

Received: October 26, 2017     Accepted: February 25, 2018     Published: April 06, 2018


Melanoma is an aggressive cancer type with a high mortality rate and an elevated resistance to conventional treatment. Recently, promising new tools for anti-melanoma targeted therapy have emerged including inhibitors directed against frequently overexpressed receptors of growth factors implicated in the progression of this cancer. The ineffectiveness of single-targeted therapy prompted us to study the efficacy of treatment with a combination of foretinib, a MET (hepatocyte growth factor receptor) inhibitor, and gefitinib or lapatinib, EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) inhibitors. We observed a synergistic cytotoxic effect for the combination of foretinib and lapatinib on the viability and proliferation of the examined melanoma cell lines. This combination of inhibitors significantly decreased Akt and Erk phosphorylation, while the drugs used independently were insufficient. Additionally, after treatment with pairs of inhibitors, cells became larger, with more pronounced stress fibers and abnormally shaped nuclei. We also noticed the appearance of polyploid cells and massive enrichment in the G2/M phase. Therefore, combination treatment was much more effective against melanoma cells than a single-targeted approach. Based on our results, we conclude that both EGFR and MET receptors might be effective targets in melanoma therapy. However, variation in their levels in patients should be taken into consideration.

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