Combination of fluoropyrimidines and a platinum derivative are currently standards for systemic chemotherapy in advanced adenocarcinoma of the stomach and gastroesophageal junction (GEJ). Nevertheless, individual likelihood for response to these therapeutic regimes remains uncertain. Even more, no predictive markers are available to determine which patients may benefit more from oxaliplatin versus cisplatin or vice versa. The new invasion and stem cell markers VEGFR-3 and CXCR4 have been linked prognostically with more aggressive esophagogastric cancer types. Thus, we aimed to assess correlations of VEGFR-3 and CXCR4 expression levels with clinical outcome in a randomized phase III study of patients with oxaliplatin/leucovorin/5-FU (FLO) versus cisplatin/leucovorin/5-FU (FLP).
The patients data examined in this study (n = 72) were from the collective of the FLO vs. FLP phase III AIO trial. Tumour tissues were stained via immunohistochemistry for VEGFR-3 and CXCR4 expression and results were evaluated by two independent, blinded investigators.
Outcome parameter: Survival analysis was calculated for patients receiving FLO vs. FLP in relation to VEGFR-3 and CXCR4 expression.
54% and 36% of the examined tumour tissues showed strong positive expression of VEGFR-3 and CXCR4 respectively. No superiority of each regime was detected in terms of overall survival (OS) in the whole population. Patients with strong expression of CXCR4 on their tumour tissues profited more in terms of OS under the treatment of FLP (mOS: 28 vs 15 months, p = 0.05 respectively). Patients with negative VEGFR-3 and CXCR4 expression had a trend to live longer when FLO regime was applied (mOS: 22 vs. 9 months, p = 0.099 and 20 vs. 10 months, p = 0.073 respectively). In an exploratory analysis of patients older than 60 years at diagnosis, we observed a significant benefit in overall survival for VEGFR-3 and CXCR4-positive patients when treated with FLP (p = 0.002, p = 0.021 respectively).
CXCR4 positive patients profited in terms of OS from FLP, whereas FLO proved to be more effective in CXCR4 and VEGFR-3 negative patients. Our results suggest, despite the limited size of the study, a predictive value of these biomarkers concerning chemotherapy with FLP or FLO in advanced esophagogastric cancer.