Mechanisms of resistance to anti-EGFR monoclonal antibody treatment in metastatic colorectal cancer

World J Gastroenterol. 2010 Mar 14;16(10):1177-87. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v16.i10.1177.


Metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) continues to be counted as a major health problem. The introduction of newer cytotoxics, irinotecan and oxaliplatin, has achieved a significant improvement in survival rates. Novel targeted therapies (bevacizumab, and cetuximab) in combination with most efficient chemotherapy regimens have pushed the median survival beyond the 2-year mark and increased the proportion of patients which could benefit from resection of metastatic lesions. In addition, several studies have proved that the CRC mutation profiles should influence patient selection or stratification in prospective trials. KRAS mutational status represents a paradigm for biomarker development in the era of molecular targeted therapies. The present article is an overview of the most important studies in the development of biomarkers for the optimization of anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (anti-EGFR) treatment in mCRC, beyond KRAS mutations, which is a work in progress. The aim will be to identify molecular markers that might be used to select patients with a higher probability of response to anti-EGFR monoclonal antibodies. Overall the accumulating evidence of the molecular biology of CRC has substantially changed the approach to mCRC treatment and has given clinicians more rational options for treating this illness.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • ErbB Receptors / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Patient Selection


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • EGFR protein, human
  • ErbB Receptors