Purpose: Even if RAS-BRAF wild-type and HER2/MET–negative metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) patients frequently respond to anti-EGFR mAbs, acquired resistance almost invariably occurs. Mechanisms of resistance to EGFR blockade include the emergence of KRAS, NRAS, and EGFR extracellular domain mutations as well as HER2/MET alterations. However, these findings derive from retrospective studies that analyzed one single resistance mechanism at a time; moreover, it is still unclear how molecular heterogeneity affects clonal evolution in patients. In this work, we aimed at extensively characterizing and correlating the molecular characteristics of tissue- and blood-based data in a prospective cohort of patients with mCRC who received anti-EGFR antibodies.
Experimental design: Twenty-two RAS-BRAF wild-type, HER2/MET–negative mCRC patients progressing on anti-EGFR therapy after initial response underwent rebiopsy. Next-generation sequencing and silver in situ hybridization (SISH)/IHC analyses were performed both on archival tumors and postprogression samples. Circulating tumor (ctDNA) molecular profiles were obtained in matched tissue–plasma samples.
Results: RAS mutations and HER2/MET amplification were the most frequently detected resistance mechanisms in both tissue and blood sample analysis. On the other hand, BRAF and EGFR ectodomain mutations were much rarer. Patients with acquired MET amplification showed worse PFS on anti-EGFRs. We detected both intralesion heterogeneity, as suggested by co-occurrence of different resistance mechanisms in the same sample, and interlesion heterogeneity. The combined analysis of tissue and blood (ctDNA) results highlights the complexity of clonal evolution triggered by EGFR blockade.
Conclusions: Our results indicate that it may be extremely challenging to target the complex landscape of molecular heterogeneity associated with emergence of resistance to targeted therapies in patients with mCRC. Clin Cancer Res; 23(10); 2414–22. ©2016 AACR.
This article is featured in Highlights of This Issue, p. 2375
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Clinical Cancer Research Online (http://clincancerres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received July 25, 2016.
- Revision received September 22, 2016.
- Accepted October 7, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.