Background: The treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) includes drugs targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Mutation in codon 12 or 13 in the Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS) gene, downstream of the EGFR, evokes constitutive activation of the RAS/RAF/MAPK signaling pathway and correlates with resistance to anti-EGFR monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapies. However, a retrospective study reported that a proportion of patients with the KRAS G13D mutation may respond to cetuximab. A similar analysis for panitumumab was not as conclusive. We sought to determine the sensitivity of CRC cell lines to cetuximab or panitumumab treatment and to investigate the correlation of the KRAS mutational status of the CRC cell lines to the responsiveness to cetuximab or panitumumab.
Methods: To determine the responsiveness of CRC cell lines to cetuximab or panitumumab, cell lines were treated with an optimized concentration of each mAb, and proliferation assays were conducted.
Results: After treatment with cetuximab or panitumumab, at the optimum concentration of 8 μg/well, the KRAS G13D mutant cell lines HCT-116, LoVo, and T84 showed intermediate sensitivity to both treatments, between the resistant KRAS G12V mutant cell line SW480 and the sensitive KRAS wild-type cell line LIM1215. One of the G13D cell lines was significantly more sensitive to panitumumab than to cetuximab (P = .02).
Conclusion: The specific KRAS mutation determines the responsiveness to anti-EGFR monoclonal antibody treatment, corresponding to reported clinical observations.