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Trastuzumab increases the sensitivity of HER2-amplified human gastric cancer cells to oxaliplatin and cisplatin by affecting the expression of telomere-associated proteins.

Authors: Yongping Y. Liu, Yang Y. Ling, Qiufeng Q. Qi, Ming M. Zhu, Meizhen M. Wan, Yaping Y. Zhang, Changsong C. Zhang
Published: 12/12/2014, Oncology letters


HER2 amplification occurs in ~20% of gastric cancer (GC) cases; however, in gastric and gastroesophageal junction cancer with HER2 gene amplification, trastuzumab in combination with cisplatin (DDP)-based chemotherapy has been reported to improve the oncological outcome. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the combined antitumor efficacy of trastuzumab and various platinum agents in GC cells and to elucidate mechanisms that may be involved in the interaction between trastuzumab and the platinum agents. The in vitro chemosensitivity of the GC cells to platinum agents was evaluated using the CellTiter 96(®) AQueous One Solution Cell Proliferation Assay kit. Treatment with 1.0μg/ml trastuzumab for 48 h significantly increased the sensitivity of NCI-N87 cells with HER2 amplification to oxaliplatin (Oxa) and DDP. This chemosensitivity was most prominent in the NCI-N87 cells, in which the half maximal inhibitory concentration of Oxa and DDP was decreased to ~3.29 and 6.91 times, respectively. The apoptotic effect of the platinum agents was evaluated by double-staining the GC cells with Annexin V-fluorescein isothiocyanate and propodium iodide. Consistent with the chemosensitivity analysis, apoptotic analysis indicated that trastuzumab significantly increased Oxa- and DDP-induced apoptosis in the NCI-N87 cells. Furthermore, the mRNA expression levels of various telomere-associated genes was determined by performing quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reactions in a number of GC cell lines, and revealed that trastuzumab (alone and in combination with DDP) may downregulate the mRNA expression levels of the TPP1, TRF1, TRF2, TRF2IP and POT1 genes. However, western blot analysis demonstrated that trastuzumab (alone and in combination with DDP) may significantly downregulate the protein expression levels of telomeric repeat binding factor 2, protection of telomere 1 and TPP1 (formerly known as TINT1, PTOP and PIP). The results of the present study indicate a potential role of low-dose trastuzumab administration for increasing Oxa and DDP sensitivity in HER2-amplified GC cells, possibly via the downregulation of telomere-associated gene expression.

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