Phase II study of erlotinib in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma: A Southwest Oncology Group study

Linda L. Garland, Cathryn Rankin, David R. Gandara, Saul E. Rivkin, Katherine M. Scott, Raymond B. Nagle, Andres J.P. Klein-Szanto, Joseph R. Testa, Deborah A. Altomare, Ernest C. Borden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

185 Scopus citations


Purpose: Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) expresses high levels of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and preclinical studies have identified antitumor activity of EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in MPM. We conducted a phase II trial of the EGFR TKI erlotinib in previously untreated patients with MPM. Patients and Methods: Patients with measurable and nonmeasurable disease were treated with erlotinib 150 mg/d on days 1 through 28 of each 28-day dosing cycle. Archived patient tumors were analyzed for immunohistochemical expression of EGFR, phospho-EGFR, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), phospho-extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), and phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) and phosphorylation of members of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt signaling pathway. Results: Sixty-three patients were treated on the study. EGFR was highly expressed in 75% of patient tumors, as was phospho-ERK (82%), phospho-Akt (84%), phospho-mammalian target of rapamycin (74%), and phospho-forkhead (74%). HER2 was rarely expressed, and loss of PTEN was rare. For 33 patients with measurable disease, there were no objective responses; 14 patients (42%) had stable disease, 15 patients (45%) had disease progression, and four patients had inadequate assessments to determine response. Toxicities were mainly constitutional (51%), dermatologic (82%), and GI (52%); there was one death on trial, which was related to dyspnea. Median overall survival time was 10 months; 1-year survival rate was 43%; and median progression-free survival time was 2 months. Conclusion: Single-agent erlotinib was not effective in MPM, despite high expression of EGFR. Activation of the ERK and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt downstream pathways are possible resistance mechanisms to EGFR TKI. The activated phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway is a potential therapeutic target for MPM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2406-2413
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number17
StatePublished - Jun 10 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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