The impact of KRAS mutations on cetuximab sensitivity in epidermal growth factor receptor fluorescence in situ hybridisation-positive (EGFR FISH+) metastatic colorectal cancer patients (mCRC) has not been previously investigated. In the present study, we analysed KRAS, BRAF, PI3KCA, MET, and IGF1R in 85 mCRC treated with cetuximab-based therapy in whom EGFR status was known. KRAS mutations (52.5%) negatively affected response only in EGFR FISH+ patients. EGFR FISH+/KRAS mutated had a significantly lower response rate (P=0.04) than EGFR FISH+/KRAS wild type patients. Four EGFR FISH+ patients with KRAS mutations responded to cetuximab therapy. BRAF was mutated in 5.0% of patients and none responded to the therapy. PI3KCA mutations (17.7%) were not associated to cetuximab sensitivity. Patients overexpressing IGF1R (74.3%) had significantly longer survival than patients with low IGF1R expression (P=0.006), with no difference in response rate. IGF1R gene amplification was not detected, and only two (2.6%) patients, both responders, had MET gene amplification. In conclusion, KRAS mutations are associated with cetuximab failure in EGFR FISH+ mCRC, even if it does not preclude response. The rarity of MET and IGF1R gene amplification suggests a marginal role in primary resistance. The potential prognostic implication of IGF1R expression merits further evaluation.
cetuximab; EGFR; KRAS; BRAF; MET; IGF1R
Although it is accepted that metastatic colorectal cancers (mCRCs) that carry activating mutations in KRAS are unresponsive to anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) monoclonal antibodies, a significant fraction of KRAS wild-type (wt) mCRCs are also unresponsive to anti-EGFR therapy. Genes encoding EGFR ligands amphiregulin (AREG) and epiregulin (EREG) are promising gene expression-based markers but have not been incorporated into a test to dichotomise KRAS wt mCRC patients with respect to sensitivity to anti-EGFR treatment.
We used RT–PCR to test 110 candidate gene expression markers in primary tumours from 144 KRAS wt mCRC patients who received monotherapy with the anti-EGFR antibody cetuximab. Results were correlated with multiple clinical endpoints: disease control, objective response, and progression-free survival (PFS).
Expression of many of the tested candidate genes, including EREG and AREG, strongly associate with all clinical endpoints. Using multivariate analysis with two-layer five-fold cross-validation, we constructed a four-gene predictive classifier. Strikingly, patients below the classifier cutpoint had PFS and disease control rates similar to those of patients with KRAS mutant mCRC.
Gene expression appears to identify KRAS wt mCRC patients who receive little benefit from cetuximab. It will be important to test this model in an independent validation study.
EGFR; colorectal cancer; cetuximab
KRAS mutations occur in 35–45% of metastatic colorectal cancers (mCRC) and preclude responsiveness to EGFR-targeted therapy with cetuximab or panitumumab. However, less than 20% patients displaying wild-type KRAS tumors achieve objective response. Alterations in other effectors downstream of the EGFR, such as BRAF, and deregulation of the PIK3CA/PTEN pathway have independently been found to give rise to resistance. We present a comprehensive analysis of KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA mutations, and PTEN expression in mCRC patients treated with cetuximab or panitumumab, with the aim of clarifying the relative contribution of these molecular alterations to resistance.
We retrospectively analyzed objective tumor response, progression-free (PFS) and overall survival (OS) together with the mutational status of KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA and expression of PTEN in 132 tumors from cetuximab or panitumumab treated mCRC patients. Among the 106 non-responsive patients, 74 (70%) had tumors with at least one molecular alteration in the four markers. The probability of response was 51% (22/43) among patients with no alterations, 4% (2/47) among patients with 1 alteration, and 0% (0/24) for patients with ≥2 alterations (p<0.0001). Accordingly, PFS and OS were increasingly worse for patients with tumors harboring none, 1, or ≥2 molecular alteration(s) (p<0.001).
When expression of PTEN and mutations of KRAS, BRAF and PIK3CA are concomitantly ascertained, up to 70% of mCRC patients unlikely to respond to anti-EGFR therapies can be identified. We propose to define as ‘quadruple negative’, the CRCs lacking alterations in KRAS, BRAF, PTEN and PIK3CA. Comprehensive molecular dissection of the EGFR signaling pathways should be considered to select mCRC patients for cetuximab- or panitumumab-based therapies.
The monoclonal antibodies cetuximab and panitumumab, directed against the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), are licensed for the treatment of KRAS wild-type metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Such ‘molecular restriction’ derived from post-hoc analyses of randomized trials and from other retrospective series all indicate how tumors bearing KRAS (v-Ki-ras2 Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog) mutations are resistant to EGFR inhibition. Even if highly sensitive for nonresponse, KRAS testing is not very specific. In fact, a limited but still considerable proportion of KRAS wild-type patients rapidly progress on treatment with an EGFR inhibitor. New potential molecular determinants of benefit from such treatment are under investigation and may further refine the selection of patients. Pharmacogenomic analyses and translational studies are also ongoing for exploring the field of acquired resistance to anti-EGFRs, since all patients eventually progress. New biological data are awaited for optimizing the use of molecular agents in colorectal cancer and for identifying promising targets that could allow to better understand and, potentially, overcome mechanisms of primary or secondary resistance to EGFR inhibitors.
colorectal cancer; epidermal growth factor receptor; cetuximab; panitumumab; predictive factors
AIM: To investigate the prognostic value of KRAS mutation, and phosphatase and tensin (PTEN) expression in Chinese metastatic colorectal cancer metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) patients treated with cetuximab.
METHODS: Ninety Chinese mCRC patients treated with cetuximab were evaluated for KRAS mutation and PTEN protein expression by DNA sequencing of codons 12 and 13 and immunohistochemistry, respectively. We then selected 61 patients treated with cetuximab, either in combination with chemotherapy, or alone as a second-line or third-line regimen to assess whether KRAS mutation or PTEN protein expression is associated with the response and the survival time of mCRC patients treated with cetuximab.
RESULTS: KRAS mutation was found in 30 (33.3%) tumor samples from the 90 patients, and positive PTEN expression was detected in 58 (64.4%) of the 90 patients. Among the 61 patients who were treated with cetuximab as a second-line or third-line regimen, the resistance to cetuximab was found in 22 patients with KRAS mutation and in 39 patients without KRAS mutation, with a response rate of 4.5% and 46.1% respectively (P = 0.001), a shorter median progression-free survival (PFS) time of 14 ± 1.3 wk and 32 ± 2.5 wk respectively (P < 0.001), a median overall survival (OS) time of 11 ± 1.2 mo and 19 ± 1.8 mo respectively (P < 0.001), as well as in 24 patients with negative PTEN expression and in 37 patients with positive PTEN expression respectively (P < 0.001), with a responsive rate of 4.2% and 48.6% respectively, a shorter median PFS survival time of 17 ± 2.0 wk and 28 ± 1.9 wk respectively (P = 0.07), and a median OS time of 11 ± 1.3 mo and 18 ± 1.9 mo respectively (P = 0.004). Combined KRAS mutation and PTEN expression analysis showed that the PFS and OS time of patients with two favorable prognostic factors were longer than those of patients with one favorable prognostic factor or no favorable prognostic factor (P < 0.001).
CONCLUSION: KRAS mutation and PTEN protein expression are significantly correlated with the response rate and survival time of Chinese mCRC patients treated with cetuximab.
Cetuximab; Metastatic colorectal cancer; KRAS mutation; Phosphatase and tensin protein expression
KRAS mutations negatively affect outcome after treatment with cetuximab in metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) patients. As only 20% of KRAS wild type (WT) patients respond to cetuximab it is possible that other mutations, constitutively activating the EGFR pathway, are present in the non-responding KRAS WT patients. We retrospectively analyzed objective tumor response rate, (ORR) progression-free (PFS) and overall survival (OS) with respect to the mutational status of KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA and PTEN expression in mCRC patients treated with a cetuximab-based regimen.
67 mCRC patients were enrolled onto the study. DNA was extracted from paraffin-embedded sections derived from primary or metastatic lesions. Exon 2 of KRAS and exon 15 of BRAF were analyzed by direct sequencing, PIK3CA was evaluated by pyrosequencing and PTEN expression by immunohistochemistry.
BRAF and PIK3CA mutations were independently associated with worse PFS (p = 0.006 and p = 0.028, respectively) and OS (p = 0.008 and p = 0.029, respectively). No differences in clinical outcome were found between patients who were positive or negative for PTEN expression. Conversely, patients negative for KRAS, BRAF and PIK3CA mutations were characterized by significantly better ORR, PFS and OS than patients with at least one of these mutations.
BRAF and PIK3CA mutations would seem to be independent predictors of anti-EGFR therapy effectiveness and could be taken into consideration during treatment decision making.
Metastatic colorectal cancer; Cetuximab; KRAS; BRAF; PIK3CA; PTEN
The anti-EGFR monoclonal antibody cetuximab is used in metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC), and predicting responsive patients garners great interest, due to the high cost of therapy. Mutations in the KRAS gene occur in ~40% of CRC and are a negative predictor of response to cetuximab. However, many KRAS-wildtype patients do not benefit from cetuximab. We previously published a gene expression predictor of sensitivity to erlotinib, an EGFR inhibitor. The purpose of this study was to determine if this predictor could identify KRAS-wildtype CRC patients who will benefit from cetuximab therapy.
Microarray data from 80 metastatic CRC patients subsequently treated with cetuximab were extracted from the study by Khambata-Ford et al. The study included KRAS status, response, and PFS for each patient. The gene expression data were scaled and analyzed using our predictive model. An improved predictive model of response was identified by removing features in the 180-gene predictor that introduced noise.
Forty-three of eighty patients were identified as harboring wildtype-KRAS. When the model was applied to these patients, the predicted-sensitive group had significantly longer PFS than the predicted-resistant group (median 88 days vs. 56 days; mean 117 days vs. 63 days, respectively, p = 0.008). Kaplan-Meier curves were also significantly improved in the predicted-sensitive group (p = 0.0059, HR = 0.4109. The model was simplified to 26 of the original 180 genes and this further improved stratification of PFS (median 147 days vs. 56.5 days in the predicted sensitive and resistant groups, respectively, p < 0.0001). However, the simplified model will require further external validation, as features were selected based on their correlation to PFS in this dataset.
Our model of sensitivity to EGFR inhibition stratified PFS following cetuximab in KRAS-wildtype CRC patients. This study represents the first true external validation of a molecular predictor of response to cetuximab in KRAS-WT metastatic CRC. Our model may hold clinical utility for identifying patients responsive to cetuximab and may therefore minimize toxicity and cost while maximizing benefit.
Anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) monoclonal antibodies are restricted to KRAS wild-type (WT) metastatic colorectal cancers (mCRCs), usually identified by direct sequencing, that may yield false negative results because of genetic heterogeneity within the tumour. We evaluated the efficiency of high-resolution melting analysis (HRMA) in identifying KRAS-mutant (MUT) tumours.
We considered 50 mCRC patients scored as KRAS-WT by direct sequencing and treated with cetuximab-containing chemotherapy, and tested the correlations between HRMA findings and response rate (RR), progression-free (PFS) and overall survival (OS).
Aberrant melting curves were detected in four (8%) cases; gene cloning confirmed these mutations. Response rate (RR) of HRMA KRAS-WT patients was 28.3%. There was no response in HRMA KRAS-MUT patients. Disease control rate (responsive plus stable disease) was 58.7% in HRMA KRAS-WT patients and 25% in HRMA KRAS-MUT patients. There was no correlation between HRMA KRAS status and RR (P=0.287) or disease control (P=0.219). Median PFS (4.8 vs 2.3 months; hazard ratio (HR)=0.29, P=0.02) and OS (11.0 vs 2.7 months; HR=0.11, P=0.03) were significantly longer for the HRMA KRAS-WT than for HRMA KRAS-MUT patients.
High-resolution melting analysis identified 8% more KRAS-MUT patients not responding to cetuximab-containing regimens, suggesting that HRMA may be more effective than direct sequencing in selecting patients for anti-EGFR antibodies.
colorectal cancer; cetuximab; KRAS; HRMA; direct sequencing
In recent years, the monoclonal epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-targeting antibody cetuximab was introduced into systemic therapy of colorectal cancer and gained an established role in the treatment of this disease. Cetuximab was shown to be active as a single agent in chemorefractory metastatic disease as well as in combination with varying chemotherapies. Recently, randomized trials demonstrated the activity of cetuximab combinations in the first-line setting of metastatic colorectal cancer. Interestingly, the activity of cetuximab was restricted to patients with KRAS wildtype tumors, as was seen with panitumumab, another EGFR antibody. While 60%–70% of tumors harbor KRAS wildtype genes, 30%–40% of tumors express oncogenic KRAS with mutations in codons 12 and 13 causing constitutive activation of signaling cascades downstream of EGFR and resistance to EGFR blockade. Since proof of KRAS wildtype status became a prerequisite for cetuximab treatment, KRAS testing is being established throughout the world. Future trials will address the question which part of the KRAS wildtype cohort will benefit from EGFR inhibition and how to identify those patients. Additionally, new strategies for treatment of KRAS mutated tumors are strongly needed. Recent developments and future strategies will be summarized.
cetuximab; colorectal cancer; KRAS
KRAS mutation has been unambiguously identified as a marker of resistance to cetuximab-based treatment in metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) patients. However, most studies of KRAS mutation analysis have been performed using homogenously archived CRC specimens, and studies that compare freshly frozen specimens and formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) specimens of CRC are lacking. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the impact of tissue preservation on the determination of KRAS mutational status. A series of 131 mCRC fresh-frozen tissues were first analyzed using both high-resolution melting (HRM) and direct sequencing. KRAS mutations were found in 47/131 (35.8%) using both approaches. Out of the 47 samples that were positive for KRAS mutations, 33 had available matched FFPE specimens. Using HRM, 2/33 (6%) demonstrated suboptimal template amplification, and 2/33 (6%) expressed an erroneous wild-type KRAS profile. Using direct sequencing, 6/33 (18.1%) displayed a wild-type KRAS status, and 3/33 (9.1%) showed discordant mutations. Finally, the detection of KRAS mutations was lower among the FFPE samples compared with the freshly frozen samples, demonstrating that tissue processing clearly impacts the accuracy of KRAS genotyping.
genotyping; KRAS; fixative
KRAS mutation status in codons 12 and 13 is recognized as a predictive factor for resistance to anti-EGFR monoclonal antibodies. Despite having a wild type KRAS (wt-KRAS), not all patients with wt-KRAS respond to anti-EGFR antibody treatment. Additional mechanisms of resistance may activate mutations of the other main EGFR effectors pathway. Consequently, other molecular markers in colorectal cancer are needed to be evaluated to predict the response to therapy.
Patients and methods
In this retrospective study, objective responses (OR), time to progression (TTP), overall survival (OS) were analyzed in 176 metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) patients treated with first-line chemotherapy in combination with monoclonal antibodies in respect of KRAS status in codons 12 and 13 and BRAF mutational status.
The KRAS mutations were found in 63 patients (35.8 %), the KRAS mutation in codon 12 in 53 patients (30.1%) and the KRAS mutation in codon 13 in 10 patients (5.7%). The BRAF V600E mutation was detected in 13 of 176 patients (7.4%). In the subgroup of mCRC patients having wt-KRAS and wild type BRAF (wt-BRAF), the objective response rates were higher (OR 54.0% ,CR 14.7%, PR 39.3%) than in the patients with wt-KRAS and mt-BRAF (OR 38.5%,CR 15.4%, PR 23.1%), the difference was not statistically significant (p= 0.378). Median OS in patients with wt-KRAS wt-BRAF, and in patients with wt-KRAS mt-BRAF, was 107.4 months and 45 months, respectively. The difference was statistically significant (p= 0.042). TTP in patients with wt-KRAS wt-BRAF, and in patients with wt-KRAS mt-BRAF, was 16 months and 12 months, respectively. The difference was not statistically significant (p= 0.558).
Patients with BRAF V600E mutation have statistically significantly worse prognosis than the patients with wt-BRAF and progress earlier during treatment. The definitive role of the BRAF V600E mutation as a prognostic and predictive factor for the response to anti-EGFR monoclonal antibodies needs to be analyzed in large prospective clinical studies.
metastatic colorectal cancer; KRAS; BRAF; prognostic factors
KRAS codons 12 and 13 mutations predict resistance to anti-EGFR monoclonal antibodies (moAbs) in metastatic colorectal cancer. Also, BRAF V600E mutation has been associated with resistance. Additional KRAS mutations are described in CRC.
We investigated the role of KRAS codons 61 and 146 and BRAF V600E mutations in predicting resistance to cetuximab plus irinotecan in a cohort of KRAS codons 12 and 13 wild-type patients.
Among 87 KRAS codons 12 and 13 wild-type patients, KRAS codons 61 and 146 were mutated in 7 and 1 case, respectively. None of mutated patients responded vs 22 of 68 wild type (P=0.096). Eleven patients were not evaluable. KRAS mutations were associated with shorter progression-free survival (PFS, HR: 0.46, P=0.028). None of 13 BRAF-mutated patients responded vs 24 of 74 BRAF wild type (P=0.016). BRAF mutation was associated with a trend towards shorter PFS (HR: 0.59, P=0.073). In the subgroup of BRAF wild-type patients, KRAS codons 61/146 mutations determined a lower response rate (0 vs 37%, P=0.047) and worse PFS (HR: 0.45, P=0.023). Patients bearing KRAS or BRAF mutations had poorer response rate (0 vs 37%, P=0.0005) and PFS (HR: 0.51, P=0.006) compared with KRAS and BRAF wild-type patients.
Assessing KRAS codons 61/146 and BRAF V600E mutations might help optimising the selection of the candidate patients to receive anti-EGFR moAbs.
colorectal cancer; cetuximab; KRAS; BRAF
The validation of KRAS mutations as a negative marker of response to anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) antibodies has meant a seminal advance towards treatment individualisation of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients. However, as a KRAS wild-type status does not guarantee a response to anti-EGFR antibodies, a current challenge is the identification of other biomarkers of response. On the basis of pre-clinical evidence, we hypothesised that mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase-1 (MKP-1), a phosphatase that inactivates MAPKs, could be a mediator of resistance to anti-EGFR antibodies.
Tumour specimens from 48 metastatic CRC patients treated with cetuximab-based chemotherapy were evaluated for KRAS and BRAF mutational status and MKP-1 expression as assessed by immunohistochemistry.
As expected, clinical benefit was confined to wild-type KRAS and BRAF patients. Mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase-1 was overexpressed in 16 patients (33%) and was not associated with patient baseline clinicopathological characteristics and KRAS mutational status. All patients with BRAF mutations (n=3) had MKP-1 overexpression. Among KRAS wild-type patients, MKP-1 overexpressors had a 7% response rate (RR), whereas patients not overexpressing MKP-1 had a 44% RR (P=0.03). Moreover, median time to progression was significantly longer in MKP-1 non-overexpressing patients (32 vs 13 weeks, P=0.009).
These results support the concept of MKP-1 as a promising negative marker of response to cetuximab-based treatment in CRC patients with wild-type KRAS.
MKP-1; cetuximab; CRC; RAS; molecular marker
To analyze the relationship between KRAS, BRAF mutations and the response toCetuximab in Chinese colorectal cancer patients.
A total of273 Chinese colorectal cancer patients were evaluated for KRAS and BRAF mutations by Sanger sequencing. Among them, 59 patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) were treated with Cetuximab in combination with chemotherapy from August 2005 to July 2009. Statistical analysis was conducted to assess the relationship between KRAS, BRAF mutations and the response or survival of 59 mCRC patients.
KRAS and BRAF mutation rates were 38.5% (105/273) and 5.1% (14/273), respectively, and KRAS/BRAF mutations were mutually exclusive. Among 59 patients treated with Cetuximab plus chemotherapy, KRAS and BRAF mutations were identified in 11and 5 patients, respectively. The response rates and median progression-free survivals (PFS) in KRAS wild-type and mutant patients were 35.4% (17/48) vs. 9.1% (1/11) (P=0.054) and 153 days vs. 99 days (P=0.01), respectively.Also, the response rates and median PFS in BRAF wild-type and mutant patients were 37.2% (16/43) vs. 20% (1/5) (P=0.016) and 138 days vs. 90 days (P=0.036), respectively.
Besides KRAS, assessing BRAF mutation should also be required to select patients eligible for Cetuximab. Further prospective evaluation in large samples should be performed to confirm these preliminary findings.
KRAS; BRAF; Mutation; Cetuximab; Colorectal cancer
KRAS, BRAF and PIK3CA mutations are frequently observed in colorectal cancer (CRC). In particular, KRAS mutations are strong predictors for clinical outcomes of EGFR-targeted treatments such as cetuximab and panitumumab in metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). For mutation analysis, the current methods are time-consuming, and not readily available to all oncologists and pathologists. We have developed a novel, simple, sensitive and fully automated molecular diagnostic system (AMDS) for point of care testing (POCT). Here we report the results of a comparison study between AMDS and direct sequencing (DS) in the detection of KRAS, BRAF and PI3KCA somatic mutations.
DNA was extracted from a slice of either frozen (n = 89) or formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded (FFPE) CRC tissue (n = 70), and then used for mutation analysis by AMDS and DS. All mutations (n = 41 among frozen and 27 among FFPE samples) detected by DS were also successfully (100%) detected by the AMDS. However, 8 frozen and 6 FFPE samples detected as wild-type in the DS analysis were shown as mutants in the AMDS analysis. By cloning-sequencing assays, these discordant samples were confirmed as true mutants. One sample had simultaneous “hot spot” mutations of KRAS and PIK3CA, and cloning assay comfirmed that E542K and E545K were not on the same allele. Genotyping call rates for DS were 100.0% (89/89) and 74.3% (52/70) in frozen and FFPE samples, respectively, for the first attempt; whereas that of AMDS was 100.0% for both sample sets. For automated DNA extraction and mutation detection by AMDS, frozen tissues (n = 41) were successfully detected all mutations within 70 minutes.
AMDS has superior sensitivity and accuracy over DS, and is much easier to execute than conventional labor intensive manual mutation analysis. AMDS has great potential for POCT equipment for mutation analysis.
Metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) is frequently characterized by the presence of mutations of the KRAS oncogene, which are generally associated with a poor response to treatment with anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (anti-EGFR) monoclonal antibodies. With the methods currently used, a case is classified as KRAS-mutated when approximately 20% of the cells bear an activating KRAS mutation. These considerations raise the question of whether cells with a mutated KRAS can be found in mCRC cases classified as KRAS wild-type when more sensitive methods are used. In addition, the issue arises of whether these mCRC cases with low proportion of KRAS-mutated cells could account at least in part for the therapeutic failure of anti-EGFR therapies that occur in 40–60% of cases classified as KRAS wild type. In this study, we compared the classical assays with a very sensitive test, a locked nucleic acid (LNA) polymerase chain reaction (PCR), capable of detecting KRAS-mutated alleles at extremely low frequency (detection sensitivity limit 0.25% mutated DNA/wild-type DNA). By analyzing a cohort of 213 mCRC patients for KRAS mutations, we found a 20.6% discordance between the sequencing/TheraScreen methods and the LNA-PCR. Indeed, 44 mCRC patients initially considered KRAS wild type were reclassified as KRAS mutated by using the LNA-PCR test. These patients were more numerous among individuals displaying a clinical failure to anti-EGFR therapies. Failure to respond to these biological treatments occurred even in the absence of mutations in other EGFR pathway components such as BRAF.
Anti-EGFR targeted therapy is a potent strategy in the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) but activating mutations in the KRAS gene are associated with poor response to this treatment. Therefore, KRAS mutation analysis is employed in the selection of patients for EGFR-targeted therapy and various studies have shown a high concordance between the mutation status in primary CRC and corresponding metastases. However, although development of therapy related resistance occurs also in the context of novel drugs such as tyrosine kinase-inhibitors the effect of the anti-EGFR treatment on the KRAS/BRAF mutation status itself in recurrent mCRC has not yet been clarified. Therefore, we analyzed 21 mCRCs before/after anti-EGFR therapy and found a pre-/posttherapeutic concordance of the KRAS/BRAF mutation status in 20 of the 21 cases examined. In the one discordant case, further analyses revealed that a tumor mosaicism or multiple primary tumors were present, indicating that anti-EGFR therapy has no influence on KRAS/BRAF mutation status in mCRC. Moreover, as the preselection of patients with a KRASwt genotype for anti-EGFR therapy has become a standard procedure, sample sets such ours might be the basis for future studies addressing the identification of potential anti-EGFR therapy induced genetic alterations apart from KRAS/BRAF mutations.
Oncogenic mutations in Kras occur in 40%-45% of patients with advanced colorectal cancer (CRC). We have previously shown that chemotherapy acutely activates ADAM17 resulting in growth factor shedding, growth factor receptor activation and drug resistance in CRC tumours. In this study, we examined the role of mutant Kras in regulating growth factor shedding and ADAM17 activity using isogenic Kras mutant (MT) and wild type (WT) HCT116 CRC cells. Significantly higher levels of TGF-α and VEGF were shed from KrasMT HCT116 cells, both basally and following chemotherapy treatment, and this correlated with increased pErk1/2 levels and ADAM17 activity. Inhibition of Kras, MEK1/2 or Erk1/2 inhibition abrogated chemotherapy-induced ADAM17 activity and TGF-α shedding. Moreover, we found that these effects were not drug- or cell line-specific. In addition, MEK1/2 inhibition in KrasMT xenografts resulted in significant decreases in ADAM17 activity and growth factor shedding in vivo, which correlated with dramatically attenuated tumour growth. Furthermore, we found that MEK1/2 inhibition significantly induced apoptosis both alone and when combined with chemotherapy in KrasMT cells. Importantly, we found that sensitivity to MEK1/2 inhibition was ADAM17-dependent in vitro and in vivo. Collectively, our findings indicate that oncogenic Kras regulates ADAM17 activity and thereby growth factor ligand shedding in a MEK1/2/Erk1/2-dependent manner and that KrasMT CRC tumours are vulnerable to MEK1/2 inhibitors, at least in part due to their dependency on ADAM17 activity.
Kras; MEK1/2; ADAM17; growth factor; colorectal cancer
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a receptor tyrosine kinase that plays a major role in oncogenesis. Cetuximab is an EGFR-blocking antibody that is FDA approved for use in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Although cetuximab has shown strong clinical benefit for a subset of cancer patients, most become refractory to cetuximab therapy. We reported that cetuximab-resistant NSCLC line NCI-H226 cells have increased steady-state expression and activity of EGFR secondary to altered trafficking/degradation and this increase in EGFR expression and activity lead to hyper-activation of HER3 and down stream signals to survival. We now present data that Src family kinases (SFKs) are highly activated in cetuximab-resistant cells and enhance EGFR activation of HER3 and PI(3)K/Akt. Studies using the Src kinase inhibitor dasatinib decreased HER3 and PI(3)K/Akt activity. In addition, cetuximab-resistant cells were resensitized to cetuximab when treated with dasatinib. These results indicate that SFKs and EGFR cooperate in acquired resistance to cetuximab and suggest a rationale for clinical strategies that investigate combinatorial therapy directed at both the EGFR and SFKs in patients with acquired resistance to cetuximab.
EGFR; cetuximab; resistance; Src-family kinases; dasatinib
Bevacizumab and cetuximab both improve treatment efficacy when administered with chemotherapy for metastatic colorectal carcinoma (mCRC). Cetuximab has enhanced efficacy in Kras wild-type tumors. However, inferior outcomes have been demonstrated concerning the concurrent use of bevacizumab and cetuximab with chemotherapy. There is an urgent need to define the optimal sequence of use of these two agents. With regard to the pre-clinical data that increased VEGF expression is associated with acquired resistance to anti-EGFR antibody, we performed a retrospective analysis on the outcomes of patients who received bevacizumab-containing regimens after cetuximab failure in Kras wild-type mCRC. From January 2006 to December 2011, patients who received bevacizumab-containing regimens for mCRC in our institution were reviewed. Patients were eligible for further analysis if the following criteria were met: i) Kras wild-type mCRC; ii) chemotherapy and cetuximab received as immediate prior treatment; iii) chemotherapy and bevacizumab received as the index line of treatment; and iv) imaging conducted for response evaluation. Outcome measures included median progression-free survival (mPFS) and objective response rate (ORR). Targeted adverse events were recorded in accordance with two prospective observational cohort studies; the BRiTE and BEAT studies. Fifty patients who received bevacizumab-containing regimens were reviewed and 18 of them met the criteria for further analysis. After a median follow-up of 12.1 months, the mPFS for the total group of patients was 26.3 weeks (95% CI, 19.5–33.0 weeks) with an ORR of 38.9%. Two patients (11.1%) had hypertension that required additional anti-hypertensive drugs and one patient did not survive due to a bowel perforation. No arterial thromboembolic events (ATEs), post-operative wound-healing complications (POWHCs) or grade III/IV bleeding were observed. In patients with Kras wild-type mCRC, bevacizumab-containing regimens following cetuximab failure have modest activity and manageable toxicity.
bevacizumab; cetuximab; metastatic colorectal carcinoma; Kras wild-type
Introduction and Design
The introduction of the epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors (EGFR-I) has increased the treatment options available for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Two EGFR-I agents currently approved for the treatment of mCRC are the fully human monoclonal antibody panitumumab and the mouse-human chimeric monoclonal antibody cetuximab. While these agents have demonstrated activity across multiple lines of therapy, early studies suggested that clinical benefit was confined to a subset of patients treated. Mutation of the KRAS oncogene has emerged as a powerful negative predictive biomarker to identify patients with mCRC who do not benefit from EGFR-I therapy. Multiple retrospective analyses have demonstrated that clinical benefit from treatment with EGFR-I is limited to patients with tumors harboring the wild-type KRAS gene. In this review, the KRAS pathway and studies evaluating KRAS as a prognostic marker in CRC are discussed along with advances in KRAS gene mutation testing. Clinical trials evaluating the role of KRAS status in response to EGFR-I monotherapy or in combination with chemotherapy are also highlighted along with ongoing studies evaluating the role of EGFR-I treatment on curative resections rates.
Results and Conclusion
Future studies investigating EGFR-I therapy in mCRC should incorporate KRAS mutation testing into the study protocol in order to more accurately determine the patient population that will obtain clinical benefit from these novel agents.
The employment of anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) antibodies represents a backbone of the therapeutic options for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). However, this therapy is poorly effective or ineffective in unselected patients. Mutations in KRAS, BRAF and PIK3CA genes have recently emerged as the best predictive factors of low/absent response to EGFR-targeted therapy. Due to the need for efficacious treatment options for mCRC patients bearing these mutations, in this short report we examined the antitumoral activity of the protease inhibitor gabexate mesilate, alone and in combination with the anti-EGFR monoclonal antibody cetuximab, in a panel of human CRC cell lines harbouring a different expression pattern of wild-type/mutated KRAS, BRAF and PIK3CA genes. Results obtained showed that gabexate mesilate significantly inhibited the growth, invasive potential and tumour-induced angiogenesis in all the CRC cells employed in this study (including those ones harbouring dual KRAS/PIK3CA or BRAF/PIK3CA mutation), while cetuximab affected these parameters only in CRC cells with KRAS, BRAF and PIK3CA wild-type. Notably, the antitumoral efficacy of gabexate mesilate and cetuximab in combination was found to be not superior than that observed with gabexate mesilate as single agent. Overall, these preliminary findings suggest that gabexate mesilate could represent a promising therapeutic option for mCRC patients, particularly for those harbouring KRAS, BRAF and PIK3CA mutations, either as mono-therapy or in addition to standard chemotherapy regimens. Further studies to better elucidate gabexate mesilate mechanism of action in CRC cells are therefore warranted.
In January 2010, a panel of Canadian oncologists with particular expertise in colorectal cancer (crc) gathered to develop a consensus guideline on the use of therapies against the epidermal growth factor receptor (egfr) in the management of metastatic crc (mcrc). This paper uses a case-based approach to summarize the consensus recommendations developed during that meeting.
These are the consensus recommendations:
Testing for the KRAS status of the tumour should be performed as soon as an egfr inhibitor is being considered as an option for treatment.Anti-egfr therapies are not recommended for the treatment of patients with tumours showing mutated KRAS status.For a patient with wild-type KRAS and an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group status of 0–2, whose mcrc has previously been treated with a fluoropyrimidine, irinotecan, and oxaliplatin, switching to an egfr inhibitor is a recommended strategy.Cetuximab, cetuximab plus irinotecan, and panitumumab are all options for third-line therapy in patients with wild-type KRAS, provided that tolerability is acceptable.
Anti-egfr; metastatic colorectal cancer; cetuximab; panitumumab; Canadian consensus
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and its downstream factors KRAS and BRAF are mutated in several types of cancer, affecting the clinical response to EGFR inhibitors. Mutations in the EGFR kinase domain predict sensitivity to the tyrosine kinase inhibitors gefitinib and erlotinib in lung adenocarcinoma, while activating point mutations in KRAS and BRAF confer resistance to the anti-EGFR monoclonal antibody cetuximab in colorectal cancer. The development of new generation methods for systematic mutation screening of these genes will allow more appropriate therapeutic choices.
We describe a high resolution melting (HRM) assay for mutation detection in EGFR exons 19-21, KRAS codon 12/13 and BRAF V600 using formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded samples. Somatic variation of KRAS exon 2 was also analysed by massively parallel pyrosequencing of amplicons with the GS Junior 454 platform.
We tested 120 routine diagnostic specimens from patients with colorectal or lung cancer. Mutations in KRAS, BRAF and EGFR were observed in 41.9%, 13.0% and 11.1% of the overall samples, respectively, being mutually exclusive. For KRAS, six types of substitutions were detected (17 G12D, 9 G13D, 7 G12C, 2 G12A, 2 G12V, 2 G12S), while V600E accounted for all the BRAF activating mutations. Regarding EGFR, two cases showed exon 19 deletions (delE746-A750 and delE746-T751insA) and another two substitutions in exon 21 (one showed L858R with the resistance mutation T590M in exon 20, and the other had P848L mutation). Consistent with earlier reports, our results show that KRAS and BRAF mutation frequencies in colorectal cancer were 44.3% and 13.0%, respectively, while EGFR mutations were detected in 11.1% of the lung cancer specimens. Ultra-deep amplicon pyrosequencing successfully validated the HRM results and allowed detection and quantitation of KRAS somatic mutations.
HRM is a rapid and sensitive method for moderate-throughput cost-effective screening of oncogene mutations in clinical samples. Rather than Sanger sequence validation, next-generation sequencing technology results in more accurate quantitative results in somatic variation and can be achieved at a higher throughput scale.
Cetuximab is a chimeric mouse–human monoclonal antibody that targets the human epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). However, EGFR expression determined by immunohistochemistry does not predict clinical outcomes of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients treated with cetuximab. Therefore, we evaluated the correlation between EGFR levels detected by cetuximab and drug sensitivities of CRC cell lines (Caco-2, WiDR, SW480, and HCT116) and the A431 epidermoid carcinoma cell line. We used flow cytometry (FCM) to detect EGFR-binding of biotinylated cetuximab on the cell surface. Subcloned cell lines showing the highest and lowest EGFR expression levels were chosen for further study. Cytotoxic assays were used to determine differential responses to cetuximab. Xenograft models treated with cetuximab intraperitoneally to assess sensitivity to cetuximab. Strong responses to cetuximab were specifically exhibited by subcloned cells with high EGFR expression levels. Furthermore, cetuximab inhibited the growth of tumors in xenograft models with high or low EGFR expression levels by 35% and 10%–20%, respectively. We conclude that detection of EGFR expression by cetuximab promises to provide a novel, sensitive, and specific method for predicting the sensitivity of CRC to cetuximab.