Combined targeting of epidermal growth factor receptor and hedgehog signaling by gefitinib and cyclopamine cooperatively improves the cytotoxic effects of docetaxel on metastatic prostate cancer cells

Murielle Mimeault, Sonny L. Johansson, Ganesh Vankatraman, Eric Moore, Jean Pierre Henichart, Patrick Depreux, Ming-Fong Lin, Surinder Kumar Batra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

76 Scopus citations


The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and hedgehog cascades provide a critical role in prostate cancer progression and contribute to the resistance to clinical therapies and disease relapse. Therefore, we evaluated, for the first time, the antiproliferative and cytotoxic effects induced by a combination of selective inhibitors of EGFR tyrosine kinase and smoothened hedgehog signaling element, gefitinib and cyclopamine, with a current chemotherapeutic drug used in the clinics, docetaxel, on some metastatic prostate cancer cell lines. Immunohistochemical analyses revealed that sonic hedgehog (SHH) expression was enhanced in 39% of primary prostatic adenocarcinomas (Gleason scores 4-10) compared with the corresponding normal tissues of the same prostate gland from 32 prostate cancer patients. The confocal microscopy and Western blot analyses have also indicated the high expression levels of SHH and EGFR in metastatic LNCaP, DU145, and PC3 cells. Moreover, the results revealed that the drugs, alone or in combination, at lower concentrations inhibited the growth of EGF plus SHH-stimulated and serum-stimulated androgen-responsive LNCaP-C33 and androgen-independent LNCaP-C81, DU145, and PC3 cells. Importantly, the combined docetaxel, gefitinib, and cyclopamine also caused a higher rate of apoptotic death of prostate cancer cells compared with individual agents. The cytotoxic effects induced by these drugs in PC3 cells seem to be mediated in part through the cellular ceramide production and activation of caspase cascades via a mitochondrial pathway and the release of cytochrome c into the cytosol. Additionally, the combined agents were more effective at suppressing the invasiveness of PC3 cells through Matrigel in vitro than the single drugs. These findings indicate that the combined use of inhibitors of EGF-EGFR and hedgehog signaling with docetaxel could represent a more promising strategy for treatment in patients with metastatic and androgen-independent prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)967-978
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular cancer therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2007


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

Cite this