Acquired KRAS mutations during progression of colorectal cancer metastases: possible implications for therapy and prognosis

Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2010 Aug;66(3):605-9. doi: 10.1007/s00280-010-1298-9. Epub 2010 Apr 2.


Purpose: Documentation of a wild-type (wt) KRAS gene in tumor has become mandatory for the prescription of anti-EGFR monoclonal antibodies in patients with colorectal cancer (CRC). Acquired KRAS mutations have seldom been reported in metastases from wt KRAS primary CRC. We report the first case of multiple KRAS mutations acquired during the metastatic phase of CRC, and retrospectively reviewed all patients with CRC, in whom KRAS was analyzed in at least two tumor samples from distinct lesions.

Methods: Genomic DNA purified from paraffin-embedded tissues was used after histological quantification of tumor tissue. The seven KRAS mutations located within codons 12 and 13 were screened using the allelic discrimination assay.

Results: A 35-year-old woman with CRC liver metastasis, resistant to all conventional cytotoxic agents, experienced for the first time significant tumor shrinkage while cetuximab was added, allowing hepatic resection. Further liver relapse occurred on cetuximab, but a new hepatic resection was attempted. No mutation in KRAS was detected in the primary colon tumor or in synchronous liver metastases. In contrast, in metachronous liver metastasis samples, two distinct mutations at codon 13 and 12 were detected. No acquired mutations were found in all the other 12 CRC cases with at least two serially performed KRAS analyses.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that late switch in KRAS mutational status could occur more frequently than currently recognized and account for acquired resistance to anti-EGFR therapies. Prospective studies are warranted to better estimate the incidence of change in KRAS mutational status and assess their clinical relevance.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • Retrospective Studies
  • ras Proteins / genetics*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • KRAS protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • ras Proteins