Human breast cancers overexpressing HER-2 are generally highly aggressive. Current therapeutic strategies to target HER-2 signaling pathway with antibodies or small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors have shown impressive success in the management of these tumor types, although most women exhibit short term response to these therapies. Acquired resistance to HER-2 target drugs, especially Herceptin is a major challenge to clinicians. Patients receiving Herceptin therapy invariably recur and most often with highly aggressive tumors. Thus identifying new drugs which target multiple molecular pathways is desired to treat Herceptin resistant breast cancer. Using paired HER-2 overexpressing parental Herceptin responsive (BT-474) and its Herceptin resistant variant cells (BT-474HR) we showed that acquired resistance to Herceptin is associated with enhanced expression of HER-2, EGFR, CyclinD1, P-AKT (Ser-473), PI-3K, JAB1 proteins and decreased expression of nuclear pten and p27 proteins. These results are similar to those observed in recurrent breast tumors in patients following Herceptin treatment. Deguelin, a natural product derivative of rotenoids and has been shown to inhibit growth of diverse cancer types. Deguelin is a known AKT inhibitor, however its efficacy is never tested in breast cancers resistant to Herceptin which express high levels of p-AKT. We examined effect of Deguelin on HER-2 overexpressing BT-474 BT-474-HRcells. Deguelin inhibited growth of both, BT-474 and BT-474HR cells in concentration (0-250nM) and time dependent (24-72h) manner. There was a 40-50%- inhibition of both BT474and BT-474HR cells at 25nM Deguelin treatment at 72h. Deguelin decreased cell surface expression of HER-2 in both these cell lines. In parental BT-474 cells both Herceptin 5-10ug/ml and Deguelin down regulated HER-2 expression, but only Deguelin reduced HER-2 (125-250nM) over expression in both BT-474 and BT-474HR cells. Down regulation of HER-2 following Deguelin treatment was associated with simultaneous down regulation of nuclear accumulation of cyclin D1, and JAB1, and p-AKT (Ser-473) proteins and up regulation of nuclear p27 and p53in both BT-474 and BT474 HR cells. These results suggest that Deguelin inhibits growth of both HER-2 overexpressing and those resistant to Herceptin therapy breast cancer cells. Effect of Deguelin appears to be mediated through down regulation of HER-2, PI3K AKT, JAB1, Cyclin D1, and p27 pathway. Our preliminary results warrant further investigation into Deguelin as a potential therapeutic agent for Herceptin resistant breast cancers. (This work was supported by NCI CA140321.)

Citation Format: {Authors}. {Abstract title} [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 103rd Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2012 Mar 31-Apr 4; Chicago, IL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2012;72(8 Suppl):Abstract nr 3812. doi:1538-7445.AM2012-3812