by Stephanie J. Gros, Nina Kurschat, Astrid Drenckhan, Thorsten Dohrmann, Evelyn Forberich, Katharina Effenberger, Uta Reichelt, Robert M. Hoffman, Klaus Pantel, Jussuf T. Kaifi, Jakob R. Izbicki
A functional linkage of the structurally unrelated receptors HER2 and CXCR4 has been suggested for breast cancer but has not been evaluated for esophageal carcinoma. The inhibition of HER2 leads to a reduction of primary tumor growth and metastases in an orthotopic model of esophageal carcinoma. The chemokine receptor CXCR4 has been implicated in metastatic dissemination of various tumors and correlates with poor survival in esophageal carcinoma. The aim of this study was to investigate a correlation between the expression levels of HER2 and CXCR4 and to evaluate the involvemnent of CXCR4-expression in HER2-positive esophageal carcinoma. The effects of HER2-inhibition with trastuzumab and of CXCR4-inhibition with AMD3100 on primary tumor growth, metastatic homing, and receptor expression were evaluated in vitro and in an orthotopic model of metastatic esophageal carcinoma using MRI for imaging. The clinical relevance of HER2- and CXCR4-expression was examined in esophageal carcinoma patients. A significant correlation of HER2- and CXCR4-expression in primary tumor and metastases exists in the orthotopic model. Trastuzumab and AMD3100 treatment led to a significant reduction of primary tumor growth, metastases and micrometastases. HER2-expression was significantly elevated under AMD3100 treatment in the primary tumor and particularly in the metastases. The positive correlation between HER2- and CXCR4-expression was validated in esophageal cancer patients. The correlation of CXCR4- and HER2-expression and the elevation of HER2-expression and reduction of metastases through CXCR4-inhibition suggest a possible functional linkage and a role in tumor dissemination in HER2-positive esophageal carcinoma.