Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKIs) are widely used for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) harboring EGFR-activating mutations. However, lung cancer cells inevitably acquire resistance to these EGFR-TKIs. The majority of patients whose lung cancer acquires resistance to EGFR-TKIs are subjected to treatment using cytotoxic agents. The present study aimed to determine if lung cancer cells acquiring resistance to EGFR-TKIs also develop altered sensitivity to cytotoxic agents. It was revealed that lung cancer cells that had developed resistance to EGFR-TKIs had increased sensitivity to gemcitabine and vinorelbine compared with EGFR-TKI naïve cells. The expression levels of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter genes, including ABCC3, ABCC5 and ABCG2, were observed to be commonly repressed in EGFR-TKI-resistant cells. In addition, two cases were identified in which gemcitabine and vinorelbine exerted marked responses to lung cancers that had acquired resistance to EGFR-TKIs, even with late-line treatment. Therefore, it was proposed that gemcitabine and vinorelbine may be effective agents for patients with lung cancer previously treated with EGFR-TKIs.
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