Biochemical and biophysical research communications

Combined inhibition of EGFR and c-ABL suppresses the growth of fulvestrant-resistant breast cancer cells through miR-375-autophagy axis.

PMID 29522716


Fulvestrant is the FDA-approved "pure anti-estrogen" agent for malignant breast cancer therapy. But endocrine resistance causes drug failure. A new approach is desired for fulvestrant-resistant breast cancer (FRBC) therapy. This study aims to find an effective approach to inhibit FRBC for patients with advanced breast cancer. MTT assay was first performed to detect the effect of inhibitors of c-ABL (imatinib) and EGFR (lapatinib) on FRBC cells. Microarray analysis was carried out to identify microRNA which is significantly changed between parental and FRBC cells. The related mechanisms were analyzed by qRT-PCR, MTT, AO staining and western blotting. Dual treatment significantly inhibited cell growth of FRBC and upregulated microRNA-375 (miR-375). Overexpression of miR-375 inhibited growth of FRBC cells, reduced autophagy, and decreased expression of ATG7 and LC3-II. Dual treatment elevated expression of miR-375 more than any single one of these two inhibitors. Overexpression of miR-375 increased cell growth inhibition induced by dual treatment, and the effect was attenuated when miR-375 was inhibited. In conclusion, we identified that combined inhibition of EGFR and c-ABL can suppress the growth of FRBC cells and elucidated a mechanism within FRBC cells involving regulation of miR-375 and autophagy. Dual treatment may be useful for inhibiting fulvestrant-resistant breast cancer.