Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) plays critical roles in cell proliferation, tumorigenesis, and anti-cancer drug resistance. Overexpression and somatic mutations of EGFR result in enhanced cancer cell survival. Therefore, EGFR can be a target for the development of anti-cancer therapy. Patients with cancers, including non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC), have been shown to response to EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKIs) and anti-EGFR antibodies. However, resistance to these anti-EGFR treatments has developed. Autophagy has emerged as a potential mechanism involved in the acquired resistance to anti-EGFR treatments. Anti-EGFR treatments can induce autophagy and result in resistance to anti-EGFR treatments. Autophagy is a programmed catabolic process stimulated by various stimuli. It promotes cellular survival under these stress conditions. Under normal conditions, EGFR-activated phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT serine/threonine kinase (AKT)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling inhibits autophagy while EGFR/rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (RAS)/mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling promotes autophagy. Thus, targeting autophagy may overcome resistance to anti-EGFR treatments. Inhibitors targeting autophagy and EGFR signaling have been under development. In this review, we discuss crosstalk between EGFR signaling and autophagy. We also assess whether autophagy inhibition, along with anti-EGFR treatments, might represent a promising approach to overcome resistance to anti-EGFR treatments in various cancers. In addition, we discuss new developments concerning anti-autophagy therapeutics for overcoming resistance to anti-EGFR treatments in various cancers.
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