Combination of SN-38 with gefitinib or imatinib overcomes SN-38-resistant small-cell lung cancer cells

Nagio Takigawa, Masami Takeyama, Toshiyuki Kozuki, Takuo Shibayama, Akiko Hisamoto, Katsuyuki Kiura, Atsuhiko Tada, Katsuyuki Hotta, Shigeki Umemura, Kadoaki Ohashi, Yoshiro Fujiwara, Saburo Takata, Eiki Ichihara, Masahiro Osawa, Masahiro Tabata, Mitsune Tanimoto, Kiyoshi Takahashi

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Irinotecan is one of the effective anticancer agents for small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) and 7-ethyl-10-hydroxycampthothecin (SN-38) is an active metabolite of irinotecan. Gefitinib and imatinib are tyrosine kinase inhibitors which have clinical activities in several malignancies and they are also potent inhibitors of breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP) transporter, which confers the resistance of topoisomerase I inhibitors including SN-38 and topotecan. The cytotoxicity of SN-38, gefitinib and imatinib for the SN-38-resistant cells (SBC-3/SN-38) from human SCLC cells, SBC-3, was evaluated using AlamarBlue assay. The drug concentration required to inhibit the growth of tumor cells by 50% (IC50) for 96-h exposure was used to evaluate the cytotoxicity. BCRP expression was determined by Western blotting and immunofluorescence staining. Intracellular topotecan accumulation was evaluated by flow cytometry. No differences were observed in the IC50 values (mean ± SD) of the tyrosine kinase inhibitors between the SBC-3 cells and the SBC-3/SN-38 cells: 15±1.6 and 12±2.8 μM of gefitinib, respectively; 15±0.51 and 14±3.9 μM of imatinib, respectively. The SBC-3/SN-38 was 9.5-fold more resistant to SN-38 than the parental SBC-3. The SBC-3/SN-38 restored sensitivity to SN-38 when combined with 8 μM gefitinib or 8 μM imatinib, even though the IC50 values of SN-38 combined with gefitinib or imatinib in the SBC-3 cells did not change. BCRP was equally overexpressed in the SBC-3/SN-38 with and without gefitinib or imatinib. In addition, the BCRP expression on the SBC-3/SN-38 cell membrane with and without gefitinib seemed to be equal. Gefitinib increased intracellular accumulation of topotecan in the SBC-3/SN-38 cells. Gefitinib or imatinib reversed SN-38-resistance in these SCLC cells, possibly due to intracellular accumulation of SN-38 without any change in BCRP quantity. Irinotecan with gefitinib or imatinib might be effective for SCLC refractory to irinotecan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)983-987
Number of pages5
JournalOncology reports
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2007


  • Gefitinib
  • Imatinib
  • Irinotecan
  • Small-cell lung cancer
  • Topotecan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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