The landscape of targeted therapies for cholangiocarcinoma: current status and emerging targets

Oncotarget. 2016 Jul 19;7(29):46750-46767. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.8775.


Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is a relatively rare malignancy that arises from the epithelial cells of the intrahepatic, perihilar and distal biliary tree. Intrahepatic CCA (ICC) represents the second most common primary liver cancer, after hepatocellular cancer. Two-thirds of the patients with ICC present with locally advanced or metastatic disease. Despite standard treatment with gemcitabine and cisplatin, prognosis remains dismal with a median survival of less than one year. Several biological plausibilities can account for its poor clinical outcomes. First, despite the advent of next generation and whole exome sequencing, no oncogenic addiction loops have been validated as clinically actionable targets. Second, the anatomical, pathological and molecular heterogeneity, and rarity of CCA confer an ongoing challenge of instituting adequately powered clinical trials. Last, most of the studies were not biomarker-driven, which may undermine the potential benefit of targeted therapy in distinct subpopulations carrying the unique molecular signature. Recent whole genome sequencing efforts have identified known mutations in genes such as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS), v-raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (BRAF) and tumor protein p53 (TP53), novel mutations in isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH), BRCA1-Associated Protein 1 (BAP1) and AT-rich interactive domain-containing protein 1A (ARID1A), and novel fusions such as fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 (FGFR2) and ROS proto-oncogene 1 (ROS1). In this review, we will discuss the evolving genetic landscape of CCA, with an in depth focus on novel fusions (e.g. FGFR2 and ROS1) and somatic mutations (e.g. IDH1/2), which are promising actionable molecular targets.

Keywords: FGFR2; IDH; cholangiocarcinoma; genetics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / genetics
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / genetics
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • Gene Fusion
  • Humans
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy*
  • Mutation
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 2 / genetics
  • Receptors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase
  • ErbB Receptors
  • FGFR2 protein, human
  • MET protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 2
  • Receptors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor