PIK3CA mutations in colorectal cancer are associated with clinical resistance to EGFR-targeted monoclonal antibodies

Andrea Sartore-Bianchi, Miriam Martini, Francesca Molinari, Silvio Veronese, Michele Nichelatti, Salvatore Artale, Federica Di Nicolantonio, Piercarlo Saletti, Sara De Dosso, Luca Mazzucchelli, Milo Frattini, Salvatore Siena, Alberto Bardelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The monoclonal antibodies (moAb) panitumumab and cetux-imab target the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and have proven valuable for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). EGFR-mediated signaling involves two main intracellular cascades: on one side KRAS activates BRAF, which in turn triggers the mitogen-activated pro-tein kinases. On the other, membrane localization of the lipid kinase PIK3CA counteracts FTEN and promotes AKTl phos-phorylation, thereby activating a parallel intracellular axis. Constitutive activation of KRAS bypasses the corresponding signaling cascade and, accordingly, patients with mCRC bearing KRAS mutations are clinically resistant to therapy with panitumumab or cetuximab. We hypothesized that mutations activating PIK3CA could also preclude responsive-ness to EGFR-targeted moAbs through a similar mechanism. Here, we present the mutational analysis of PIK3CA and KRAS and evaluation of the PTEN protein status in a cohort of 110 patients with mCRC treated with anti-EGFR moAbs. We observed 15 (13.6%) PIK3CA and 32 (29.0%) KRAS mutations. PIK3CA mutations were significantly associated with clinical resistance to panitumumab or cetuximab; none of the mutated patients achieved objective response (P = 0.038). When only KRAS wild-type tumors were analyzed, the statistical correlation was stronger (P = 0.016). Patients with PIK3CA mutations displayed a worse clinical outcome also in terms of progression-free survival (P = 0.035). Our data indicate that PIK3CA mutations can independently hamper the therapeutic response to panitumumab or cetuximab in mCRC. When the molecular status of the PIK3CA/PTEN and KRAS pathways are concomitantly ascertained, up to 70% of mCRC patients unlikely to respond to EGFR moAbs can be identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1851-1857
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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