BACKGROUND: Irinotecan (IRI) is an integral part of colorectal cancer (CRC) therapy, but response rates are unsatisfactory and resistance mechanisms are still insufficiently understood. As fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) mediates essential survival signals in CRC, it is a candidate gene for causing intrinsic resistance to IRI. METHODS: We have used cell line models overexpressing FGFR3 to study the receptor's impact on IRI response. For pathway blockade, a dominant-negative receptor mutant and a small molecule kinase inhibitor were employed. RESULTS: IRI exposure induced expression of FGFR3 as well as its ligands FGF8 and FGF18 both in cell cultures and in xenograft tumors. As overexpression of FGFR3 mitigated IRI-induced apoptosis in CRC cell models, this suggests that the drug itself activated a survival response. On the cellular level, the antiapoptotic protein bcl-xl was upregulated and caspase 3 activation was inhibited. Targeting FGFR3 signaling using a dominant-negative receptor mutant sensitized cells for IRI. In addition, the FGFR inhibitor PD173074 acted synergistically with the chemotherapeutic drug and significantly enhanced IRI-induced caspase 3 activity in vitro. In vivo, PD173074 strongly inhibited growth of IRI-treated tumors. CONCLUSION: Together, our results indicate that targeting FGFR3 can be a promising strategy to enhance IRI response in CRC patients.
Erdem, Z. N., Schwarz, S., Drev, D., Heinzle, C., Reti, A., Heffeter, P., … Marian, B. (2017). Irinotecan Upregulates Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 3 Expression in Colorectal Cancer Cells, Which Mitigates Irinotecan-Induced Apoptosis. Translational Oncology, 10(3), 332–339. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tranon.2017.02.004