J Cancer 2020; 11(1):241-250. doi:10.7150/jca.35448 This issue

Research Paper

Inhibition of Tumor Lymphangiogenesis is an Important Part that EGFR-TKIs Play in the Treatment of NSCLC

Yan Zhang1*, Xinying Yang1*, Hongchun Liu1, Minghui Cai3, Yang Shentu2✉

1. Division of Antitumor Pharmacology, State Key Laboratory of Drug Research, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, 201203, China.
2. Department of Thoracic Surgery, Shanghai Chest Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, 200030, China.
3. Department of Thoracic Surgery, Taizhou hospital of Zhejiang province, Zhejiang, 317000, China.
* These two authors contributed equally to this work and should be considered co-first authors.

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Zhang Y, Yang X, Liu H, Cai M, Shentu Y. Inhibition of Tumor Lymphangiogenesis is an Important Part that EGFR-TKIs Play in the Treatment of NSCLC. J Cancer 2020; 11(1):241-250. doi:10.7150/jca.35448. Available from https://www.jcancer.org/v11p0241.htm

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Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have been widely used to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) because they inhibit tumour growth and metastasis. However, the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. Here, we investigate whether anti-lymphangiogenesis mechanisms contribute to the anti-tumour effects of EGFR-TKIs. Three different EGFR-TKIs (Gefitinib, Afatinib, and AZD9291) were used to determine the possible biological effects of EGFR-TKIs on lymphangiogenesis in vitro and in vivo. EGFR-TKIs inhibited human lymphatic endothelial cells (HLEC) proliferation, migration and tube formation at the indicated concentrations. Conditioned medium from human lung adenocarcinoma HCC827 cells treated with EGFR-TKIs also inhibited HLEC migration and tube formation. EGFR-TKIs inhibited VEGFC secretion, which further influenced HLEC behaviour in vitro. Afatinib inhibited tumour growth and lymphangiogenesis in the HCC827 xenograft mouse model. The densities and tube diameters of the lymphatic vessels were decreased in a dose-dependent manner, as shown by lymphatic vessel endothelial hyaluronan receptor 1 (LYVE-1) staining. EGFR-TKIs also inhibited the expression of important lymphangiogenesis regulatory factors vascular endothelial growth factor 2/3 (VEGF2/3), VEGFC, and chemokine receptor 7 (CCR7) as shown by immunocytochemistry (IHC) staining. Additional assays confirmed that the JAK/STAT3 signalling pathways play important roles in the anti-lymphangiogenesis process induced by EGFR-TKIs. Inhibition of lymphangiogenesis is another important role that the three EGFR-TKIs play in the treatment of lung cancer and the Janus kinase/signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (JAK/STAT3) maybe an important signalling pathway regulating lymphangiogenesis, which provides a new idea for clinical therapy of lung cancer.

Keywords: EGFR-TKIs, NSCLC, lymphangiogenesis, JAK/STAT3, LYVE-1