Anlotinib is a multi-targeted receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) which has exhibited encouraging clinical activity in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and soft tissue sarcoma. Raltitrexed is well known to be effective in the treatment of colorectal cancer in China. The present study aims to investigate the combinatory antitumor effect of anlotinib and raltitrexed on human esophageal squamous carcinoma cells and further explore the molecular mechanisms in vitro.
Human esophageal squamous cell lines KYSE-30 and TE-1 were treated with anlotinib or raltitrexed, or both, then cell proliferation was measured by MTS and colony formation assay; cell migration and invasion were detected by wound-healing and transwell assays; cell apoptosis rate was studied by flow cytometry and the transcription of apoptosis-associated proteins were monitored by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) analysis. Finally, western blot was performed to check phosphorylation of apoptotic proteins after treatment.
Treatment with raltitrexed and anlotinib showed enhanced inhibitory effects on cell proliferation, migration and invasiveness compared with raltitrexed or anlotinib monotherapy. Meanwhile, raltitrexed combined with anlotinib strongly increased cell apoptosis percentage. Moreover, the combined treatment down-regulated mRNA level of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 and invasiveness-associated protein matrix metalloproteinases-9 (MMP-9), while up-regulated pro-apoptotic Bax and caspase-3 transcription. Western blotting showed that the combination of raltitrexed and anlotinib could inhibit the expression of phosphorylated Akt (p-Akt), Erk (p-Erk) and MMP-9.
This study indicated that raltitrexed enhanced the antitumor effects of anlotinib on human ESCC cells by down-regulating phosphorylation of Akt and Erk, providing a novel treatment option for patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC).

© 2023. The Author(s).