We studied growth factors and their receptors in tumor cells and tumor-associated endothelial cells as the therapeutic targets in colon cancer. Immunohistochemical analysis of 13 surgical specimens of human colon adenocarcinoma revealed that both tumor cells and tumor-associated endothelial cells in 11 of the 13 specimens expressed the epidermal growth factor (EGF), transforming growth factor α (TGF-α), EGF receptor (EGFR), phosphorylated EGFR (pEGFR), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), VEGF receptor (VEGFR), and phosphorylated VEGFR (pVEGFR). HT29 human colon cancer cells growing orthotopically in the cecum of nude mice expressed a high level of EGF, EGFR, pEGFR, VEGF, VEGFR, and pVEGFR. Double-immunofluorescence staining found that tumor-associated mouse endothelial cells also expressed pEGFR and pVEGFR. Tumors in mice treated for 5 weeks with oral AEE788 (an inhibitor of EGFR and VEGFR tyrosine kinase) as a single agent or with CPT-11 alone were smaller (>50%) than those in control mice. Mice treated with the combination of AEE788 and CPT-11 had significantly smaller tumors (P < 0.01) and complete inhibition of lymph node metastasis. AEE788 alone or in combination with CPT-11 inhibited pEGFR, pVEGFR, and phosphorylated Akt expression on tumor-associated endothetial cells as well as on tumor cells. The combination therapy also significantly decreased microvessel density and tumor cell proliferation and increased the level of apoptosis in both tumor cells and tumor-associated endothelial cells. Collectively, these data suggest that the dual inhibition of EGFR and VEGFR signaling pathways in tumor cells and tumor-associated endothelial cells in combination with chemotherapy can provide a new approach to the treatment of colon cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research