Early magnesium modifications as a surrogate marker of efficacy of cetuximab-based anticancer treatment in KRAS wild-type advanced colorectal cancer patients

Ann Oncol. 2011 May;22(5):1141-1146. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdq550. Epub 2010 Nov 29.


Background: KRAS wild-type mutational status is necessary but not sufficient to get benefit from epidermal growth factor receptor inhibition. Predictive markers are currently being evaluated. In this study, we investigated early hypomagnesemia as a predictor of efficacy and outcome in terms of time to progression (TtP) and overall survival (OS) in a cohort of patients affected by advanced colorectal adenocarcinoma KRAS wild-type cetuximab-treated.

Patients and methods: One hundred and forty-three patients affected by stage IV colorectal adenocarcinoma KRAS wild type receiving cetuximab + irinotecan (CTX+IRI) as third-line anticancer treatment and resistant to oxaliplatin- and irinotecan-based chemotherapy were retrospectively included. Magnesium plasma levels were measured before the first day and 7, 14, 21 and 28 days after CTX+IRI infusion.

Results: The median magnesium basal value showed a statistically significant decrease after the start of CTX+IRI treatment (at 28 days, P < 0.0001). Patients with an early decrease of magnesium levels >50% compared with the basal level had a higher tumor response rate (55.8% versus 16.7%, P < 0.0001), a longer TtP (6.3 versus 3.6, P < 0.0001) and a longer median OS (11.0 versus 8.1, P = 0.002).

Conclusions: We have shown that early hypomagnesemia could be a predictor of efficacy and outcome in those patients. Magnesium circulating level is an easy and inexpensive biomarker to routinely be detected in patients treated with cetuximab.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / blood*
  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Camptothecin / administration & dosage
  • Camptothecin / analogs & derivatives
  • Cetuximab
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / blood
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Irinotecan
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Magnesium / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • Retrospective Studies
  • ras Proteins / genetics*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • KRAS protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Irinotecan
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • ras Proteins
  • Magnesium
  • Cetuximab
  • Camptothecin