RAS-expanded Mutations and HER2 Expression in Metastatic Colorectal Cancer: A New Step of Precision Medicine

Annamaria Valentini, Elisabetta Cavalcanti, Marianna Di Maggio, Maria L Caruso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cetuximab and panitumumab monoclonal antibodies are a milestone in the history of treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) and point toward future directions for personalized treatment. Recent studies have shown that broader RAS testing is needed to select patients for targeted therapy. The objectives of our study were to identify the prevalence of RAS mutations and evaluate human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) expression in KRAS exon 2 wild-type (WT) mCRC patients, correlating the findings with objective response rate, progression-free survival, and overall survival. In total, 29 mCRC patients undergoing treatment with cetuximab therapy were enrolled in this study. By pyrosequencing, mutations were found in 17% of nonresponder patients, in KRAS codon 146 and NRAS codon 12. HER2 positivity was limited to only 1 responder carcinoma specimen. There was no correlation between RAS mutation, HER2/neu expression, and clinicopathologic findings. We highlighted significantly the differences between objective response rate and RAS gene status. The overall survival and progression-free survival of RAS WT patients were higher compared with those with RAS-mutated disease. Clinical response to cetuximab therapy is impaired in the presence of RAS-expanded mutations. In fact, our finding of 5 mutations in RAS-expanded genes allowed us to understand the resistance to cetuximab in 33% of KRAS WT exon 2 nonresponder patients. HER2 does not seem to be a potential biomarker for cetuximab-targeted therapy. These analyses suggest that the assessment of other biomarkers is needed to determine the best treatment for patients with mCRC, to maximize benefit and minimize harm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-544
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Immunohistochemistry and Molecular Morphology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018

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