Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) targeting epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) have clinically benefited to lung cancer patients harboring a subset of activating EGFR mutations. However, even with the remarkable therapeutic response at the initial TKI treatment, most lung cancer patients eventually have relapsed aggressive tumors due to acquired resistance to the TKIs. Here, we report that 3, 4, 5-trihydroxybenzoic acid or gallic acid (GA), a natural polyphenolic compound, shows anti-tumorigenic effects in TKI-resistant non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Using both in vitro growth assay and in vivo xenograft animal model, we demonstrated tumor suppressive effect of GA was more selective for the TKI-resistant cancer compared to the TKI-sensitive one. Mechanistically, GA treatment inhibited Src-Stat3-mediated signaling and decreased the expression of Stat3-regulated tumor promoting genes, subsequently inducing apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in the TKI-resistant lung cancer but not in the TKI-sensitive one. Consistent with the in vitro results, in vivo xenograft experiments showed the TKI-resistant tumor-selective growth inhibition and suppression of Src-Stat3-dependent signaling in the GA-treated tumors isolated from the xenograft model. This finding identified an importance of Src-Stat3 signaling cascade in GA-mediated tumor-suppression activity and, more importantly, provides a novel therapeutic insight of GA for advanced TKI-resistant lung cancer.
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