Biomarkers Associated with Regorafenib First-Line Treatment Benefits in Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Patients: REFRAME Molecular Study

Cancers (Basel). 2021 Apr 4;13(7):1710. doi: 10.3390/cancers13071710.


First-line treatment with regorafenib in frail metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) patients has shown some benefit. To accurately identify such patients before treatment, we studied blood biomarkers and primary tumor molecules. We unveiled serum microRNAs (miRNAs), single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in angiogenic-related genes, and Notch 1 expression as biomarkers associated with response or toxicity. MicroRNA array profiling and genotyping of selected SNPs were performed in the blood of fragile mCRC patients treated with regorafenib. Notch 1 and CRC-associated miRNA expression was also analyzed in tumors. High levels of miR-185-5p in serum, rs7993418 in the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1 (VEGFR1) gene, and Notch 1 expression in biopsies were associated with a favorable response to treatment. Serum levels of miR-126-3p and miR-152-3p and tumor expression of miR-92a-1-5p were associated with treatment toxicity, particularly interesting in patients exhibiting comorbidities, and high levels of miR-362-3p were associated with asthenia. Additionally, several miRNAs were associated with the presence of metastasis, local recurrence, and peritoneal metastasis. Besides, miRNAs determined in primary tumors were associated with tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) staging. The rs2305948 and rs699947 SNPs in VEGFR2 and VEGFA, respectively, were markers of poor prognosis correlating with locoregional relapse, a higher N stage, and metastatic shedding. In conclusion, VEGF and VEGFR SNPs, miRNAs, and Notch 1 levels are potential useful biomarkers for the management of advanced CRC under regorafenib treatment.

Keywords: biomarkers; colorectal cancer; miRNAs; regorafenib; toxicity; treatment response.