EGFR and KRAS mutational profiling in fresh non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells

J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2013 Aug;139(8):1327-35. doi: 10.1007/s00432-013-1444-y. Epub 2013 May 5.


Purpose: Knowledge of tumor mutational status has become a priority for effective NSCLC-tailored treatment. NSCLC diagnosis is more often reached through biopsy; thus, there is a clear need to implement for routine tumor molecular profiling on small cytological samples. This work aims to screen and compare the EGFR and KRAS mutational prevalence in fresh tumor cells and in corresponding routinely processed samples derived from trans-thoracic fine-needle aspiration. The latter currently represents the most appropriate diagnostic procedure in case of peripheral lesions, such as adenocarcinomas, which account for almost 40% of all NSCLCs and for the highest EGFR mutational rates.

Methods: Two hundred and forty-four patients carrying peripheral lung masses underwent CT-guided aspiration. The obtained material was split, and a part was addressed to conventional histopathological analysis while the remaining one was stored at -20 °C. In case of confirmation of adenocarcinoma, tumor genomic DNA was extracted from both fresh and fixed material, and EGFR and KRAS sequencing was performed.

Results: We identified 136 adenocarcinomas; from 134, we could recover enough material for the study. A full match was demonstrated between EGFR/KRAS mutational prevalences through the two approaches tested. We found EGFR mutations in 13 patients (9.7%); 7 were females and 11 never or former smokers. KRAS mutations occurred in 20 (14.9%) patients. EGFR and KRAS mutations were mutually exclusive.

Conclusions: Mutational screening on fresh cancer cells is an achievable, safe and cost-effective procedure which might allow routinely tumor molecular profiling as powerful integration of conventional histopathological analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Base Sequence
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / genetics*
  • DNA Mutational Analysis / methods*
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • ras Proteins / genetics*


  • KRAS protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • EGFR protein, human
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • ras Proteins