FGFR3 mRNA overexpression defines a subset of oligometastatic colorectal cancers with worse prognosis

Oncotarget. 2018 Aug 14;9(63):32204-32218. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.25941.


Objectives: Metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC) remains a leading cause of cancer related deaths. Patients with oligometastatic liver disease represent a clinical subgroup with heterogeneous course. Until now, biomarkers to characterize outcome and therapeutic options have not been fully established.

Methods: We investigated the prevalence of FGFR alterations in a total of 140 primary colorectal tumors and 63 liver metastases of 55 oligometastatic CRC patients. FGF receptors (FGFR1-4) and their ligands (FGF3, 4 and 19) were analyzed for gene amplifications and rearrangements as well as for RNA overexpression in situ. Results were correlated with clinico-pathologic data and molecular subtypes.

Results: Primary tumors showed FGFR1 (6.3%) and FGF3,4,19 (2.2%) amplifications as well as FGFR1 (10.1%), FGFR2 (5.5%) and FGFR3 (16.2%) overexpression. In metastases, we observed FGFR1 amplifications (4.8%) as well as FGFR1 (8.5%) and FGFR3 (14.9%) overexpression. Neither FGFR2-4 amplifications nor gene rearrangements were observed. FGFR3 overexpression was significantly associated with shorter overall survival in metastases (mOS 19.9 vs. 47.4 months, HR=3.14, p=0.0152), but not in primary CRC (HR=1.01, p=0.985). Although rare, also FGFR1 amplification was indicative of worse outcome (mOS 12.6 vs. 47.4 months, HR=8.83, p=0.00111).

Conclusions: We provide the so far most comprehensive analysis of FGFR alterations in primary and metastatic CRC. We describe FGFR3 overexpression in 15% of CRC patients with oligometastatic liver disease as a prognosticator for poor outcome. Recently FGFR3 overexpression has been shown to be a potential therapeutic target. Therefore, we suggest focusing on this subgroup in upcoming clinical trials with FGFR-targeted therapies.

Keywords: FGFR3; RNA in situ hybridization; colorectal cancer; fibroblast growth factor receptors; metastases.