Radiosensitization induced by the anti-epidermal growth factor receptor monoclonal antibodies cetuximab and nimotuzumab in A431 cells

Jorge Ernesto González, Joan Francesc Barquinero, Manuel Lee, Omar García, Angel Casacó

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR) are overexpressed in a wide range of malignancies including head and neck, colon, and breast cancers. It has been identified that carcinomas with high expression levels of EGFR are more resistant to radiotherapy. Therefore, inhibiting nuclear translocation of EGFR to increase the radiosensitivity of malignant cells expressing EGFR offers the potential for increasing the therapeutic index of radiotherapy. The purpose of the present study was to quantify and to compare the radiosensitizing properties of the well-known anti-EGFR antibodies, cetuximab and nimotuzumab in human epidermoid A431 overexpressing EGFR cells. Cells were treated with two concentrations of the antibodies and then irradiated with a single dose of 4 Gy. The results indicated that the two antibodies induced radiosensitization increasing the percentage of dead/dying cells and the yield of γ-H2AX foci 24 h after irradiation. Whereas cetuximab exhibited a significant increase in radiosensitization at the highest concentration, the effects of nimotuzumab were more modest. A correlation between γ-H2AX foci signals and dead/dying cells was observed. The disparity in modulation of radiation-induced DNA damage by the two antibodies could be associated with the level of their respective intrinsic cytotoxic properties. Overall, the findings highlight the potential therapeutic benefit of combination therapy with anti-EGFR antibodies and radiotherapy for relevant carcinomas. © 2012 Landes Bioscience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-76
JournalCancer Biology and Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2012


  • γ-H2AX
  • A431 cells
  • Cetuximab
  • Epidermal growth factor receptors
  • Ionizing radiation
  • Nimotuzumab
  • Radiotherapy


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