Publication Abstract

Authors: Lin JS, Webber EM, Senger CA, Holmes RS, Whitlock EP

Title: Systematic review of pharmacogenetic testing for predicting clinical benefit to anti-EGFR therapy in metastatic colorectal cancer.

Journal: Am J Cancer Res 1(5):650-62

Date: 2011 May 15

Abstract: Pharmacogenetic testing can help identify patients with metastatic colorectal cancer more likely to respond to anti-EGFR therapy. We systematically reviewed the benefits and harms of EGFR-related pharmacogenetic testing of molecular targets downstream to KRAS in the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer. We searched five electronic databases from January 2000 through November 2010, and conducted separate grey literature and conference abstracts searches. Two reviewers independently assessed all articles for relevance and quality. We identified 27 studies, primarily fair- to marginal-quality, small retrospective, and single-arm cohort studies with significant overlap in patient populations. We identified seven studies that studied BRAF in independent patient populations, one that studied NRAS, four that studied PIK3CA, eight that studied PTEN expression, and five that studied AKT expression. The best evidence for BRAF, NRAS, and PIK3CA comes from the largest retrospective study (n=649) of chemorefractory patients from seven European countries. In this study, BRAF mutation was present in 6.5% of KRAS wild-type tumors. Only 8.3% of persons with BRAF mutations, compared to 38% of persons without BRAF mutations (p=0.0012), responded to chemotherapy with cetuximab. Clinical sensitivity and the false positive fraction (1- specificity) were estimated at 9.8% (95% CI 6.3, 14.5) and 1.6% (95% CI 0.2, 5.6), respectively. BRAF mutation was also associated with worse median progression-free survival (absolute difference 18 weeks, p<0.0001), and overall survival (absolute difference 28 weeks, p<0.0001). In the only study comparing outcomes in persons who did (n=227) and did not (n=332) receive cetuximab with combination chemotherapy, those with BRAF mutation had worse survival outcomes regardless of whether or not they received cetuximab. Although NRAS and PIK3CA exon 20 mutations were also associated with worse outcomes compared to persons without these mutations, evidence is based on a small number of identified mutations. Evidence for protein expression of PTEN and AKT is more sparse and limited by variable methods for assessing protein expression. Low-quality evidence addressing clinical validity of pharmacogenetic testing in metastatic colorectal cancer patients suggests that BRAF mutations are associated with poorer treatment response and survival outcomes, although this association may be independent of treatment with EGFR inhibitors.