Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Hepatology Communications








Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common primary cancer and second largest cause of cancer‐related death worldwide. The first‐line oral chemotherapeutic agent sorafenib only increases survival in patients with advanced HCC by less than 3 months. Most patients with advanced HCC have shown limited response rates and survival benefits with sorafenib. Although sorafenib is an inhibitor of multiple kinases, including serine/threonine‐protein kinase c‐Raf, serine/threonine‐protein kinase B‐Raf, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR)‐1, VEGFR‐2, VEGFR‐3, and platelet‐derived growth factor receptor β, HCC cells are able to escape from sorafenib treatment using other pathways that the drug insufficiently inhibits. The aim of this study was to identify and target survival and proliferation pathways that enable HCC to escape the antitumor activity of sorafenib. We found that insulin‐like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) remains activated in HCC cells treated with sorafenib. Knockdown of IGF1R sensitizes HCC cells to sorafenib treatment and decreases protein kinase B (AKT) activation. Overexpression of constitutively activated AKT reverses the effect of knockdown of IGF1R in sensitizing HCC cells to treatment with sorafenib. Further, we found that ceritinib, a drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of non‐small cell lung cancer, effectively inhibits the IGF1R/AKT pathway and enhances the inhibitory efficacy of sorafenib in human HCC cell growth and survival in vitro, in a xenograft mouse model and in the c‐Met/β‐catenin‐driven HCC mouse model. Conclusion: Our study provides a biochemical basis for evaluation of a new combination treatment that includes IGF1R inhibitors, such as ceritinib and sorafenib, in patients with HCC.


Author Posting. © The Authors 2018. This article is posted here by permission of Wiley Open Access for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in Hepatology Communications, 2018,