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Ethacrynic acid improves the antitumor effects of irreversible epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors in breast cancer

Prolonged treatment of breast cancer with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) often results in acquired resistance and a narrow therapeutic index. One strategy to improve the therapeutic effects of EGFR TKIs is to combine them with drugs used for other clinical indications. Ethacrynic acid (EA) is an FDA approved drug that may have antitumor effects and may enhance the cytotoxicity of chemotherapeutic agents by binding to glutathione and inhibiting WNT signaling. While the α,β-unsaturated-keto structure of EA is similar to that of irreversible TKIs, the mechanism of action of EA when combined with irreversible EGFR TKIs in breast cancer remains unknown. We therefore investigated the combination of irreversible EGFR TKIs and EA. We found that irreversible EGFR TKIs and EA synergistically inhibit breast cancer both in vitro and in vivo. The combination of EGFR TKIs and EA induces necrosis and cell cycle arrest and represses WNT/β-catenin signaling as well as MAPK-ERK1/2 signaling. We conclude that EA synergistically enhances the antitumor effects of irreversible EGFR TKIs in breast cancer.

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