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UNLABELLED: (111)In-DTPA-human epidermal growth factor ((111)In-DTPA-hEGF [DTPA is diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid]) is an Auger electron-emitting radiopharmaceutical that targets EGF receptor (EGFR)-positive cancer. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of EGFR inhibition by gefitinib on the internalization, nuclear translocation, and cytotoxicity of (111)In-DTPA-hEGF in EGFR-overexpressing MDA-MB-468 human breast cancer cells. METHODS: Western blot analysis was used to determine the optimum concentration of gefitinib to abolish EGFR activation. Internalization and nuclear translocation of fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled hEGF were evaluated by confocal microscopy in MDA-MB-468 cells (1.3 x 10(6) EGFRs/cell) in the presence or absence of 1 microM gefitinib. The proportion of radioactivity partitioning into the cytoplasm and nucleus of MDA-MB-468 cells after incubation with (111)In-DTPA-hEGF for 24 h at 37 degrees C in the presence or absence of 1 microM gefitinib was measured by cell fractionation. DNA double-strand breaks caused by (111)In were quantified using the gamma-H2AX assay, and radiation-absorbed doses were estimated. Clonogenic survival assays were used to measure the cytotoxicity of (111)In-DTPA-hEGF alone or in combination with gefitinib. RESULTS: Gefitinib (1 microM) completely abolished EGFR phosphorylation in MDA-MB-468 cells. Internalization and nuclear translocation of fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled EGF were not diminished in gefitinib-treated cells compared with controls. The proportion of internalized (111)In that localized in the nucleus was statistically significantly greater when (111)In-DTPA-hEGF was combined with gefitinib compared with (111)In-DTPA-hEGF alone (mean +/- SD: 26.0% +/- 5.5% vs. 14.6% +/- 4.0%, respectively; P < 0.05). Induction of gamma-H2AX foci was greater in MDA-MB-468 cells that were treated with (111)In-DTPA-hEGF (250 ng/mL, 1.5 MBq/mL) plus gefitinib (1 microM ) compared with those treated with (111)In-DTPA-hEGF alone (mean +/- SD: 35 +/- 4 vs. 24 +/- 5 foci per nucleus, respectively). In clonogenic assays, a significant reduction in the surviving fraction was observed when (111)In-DTPA-hEGF (5 ng/mL, 6 MBq/microg) was combined with gefitinib (1 microM ) compared with (111)In-DTPA-hEGF alone (42.9% +/- 5.7% vs. 22.9% +/- 3.6%, respectively; P < 0.01). CONCLUSION: The efficacy of (111)In-DTPA-hEGF depends on internalization and nuclear uptake of the radionuclide. Nuclear uptake, DNA damage, and cytotoxicity are enhanced when (111)In-DTPA-hEGF is combined with gefitinib. These results suggest a potential therapeutic role for peptide receptor radionuclide therapy in combination with tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Original publication




Journal article


J Nucl Med

Publication Date





1562 - 1570


Antineoplastic Agents, Cell Compartmentation, Cell Line, Tumor, Cell Nucleus, Electrons, Epidermal Growth Factor, ErbB Receptors, Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate, Fluorescent Dyes, Gefitinib, Humans, Indium Radioisotopes, Pentetic Acid, Phosphorylation, Protein Transport, Quinazolines, Radiopharmaceuticals, Signal Transduction