Lapatinib induces autophagic cell death and inhibits growth of human hepatocellular carcinoma.

PMID 24947784


Lapatinib, an orally administered small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor targeting epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR) and Her2/Neu, has been widely accepted in the treatment of breast cancer. In this study, we found that lapatinib induced cytotoxicity in human hepatoma Huh7, HepG2 and HA22T cells. For the mode of cell death, we found lapatinib induced a higher percent of dead cells and a lower percent of hypodiploid cells, suggesting non-apoptotic cell death in lapatinib-treated hepatoma cells. Moreover, lapatinib-induced autophagy in hepatoma cells was confirmed by the detection of autophagic LC3-II conversion, the up-regulation of autophagy-related proteins, and the down-regulation of p62 by immunoblotting. Autophagic cell death was demonstrated by images of punctuated LC3 patterns, a higher percent of acridine orange positive cells, as well as a partial rescue of cell death by autophagy inhibitor 3-methyladenine or chloroquine. We also found massive vacuoles in lapatinib-treated hepatoma cells by electronic microscopy. In addition, the shRNA of knocked-down autophagy-related proteins rescued the hepatoma cells from lapatinib-induced growth inhibition. We also demonstrated a reduction of tumorigenesis by lapatinib in vivo. In conclusion, lapatinib induced autophagic cell death and the growth of human hepatoma cells. Our study provides potential cancer therapies by using lapatinib as a treatment for hepatoma.