BRCA2 Germline Mutations Identify Gastric Cancers Responsive to PARP Inhibitors

Cancer Res. 2023 May 15;83(10):1699-1710. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-22-2620.


Despite negative results of clinical trials conducted on the overall population of patients with gastric cancer, PARP inhibitor (PARPi) therapeutic strategy still might represent a window of opportunity for a subpopulation of patients with gastric cancer. An estimated 7% to 12% of gastric cancers exhibit a mutational signature associated with homologous recombination (HR) failure, suggesting that these patients could potentially benefit from PARPis. To analyze responsiveness of gastric cancer to PARPi, we exploited a gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma (GEA) platform of patient-derived xenografts (PDX) and PDX-derived primary cells and selected 10 PDXs with loss-of-function mutations in HR pathway genes. Cell viability assays and preclinical trials showed that olaparib treatment was effective in PDXs harboring BRCA2 germline mutations and somatic inactivation of the second allele. Olaparib responsive tumors were sensitive to oxaliplatin as well. Evaluation of HR deficiency (HRD) and mutational signatures efficiently stratified responder and nonresponder PDXs. A retrospective analysis on 57 patients with GEA showed that BRCA2 inactivating variants were associated with longer progression-free survival upon platinum-based regimens. Five of 7 patients with BRCA2 germline mutations carried the p.K3326* variant, classified as "benign." However, familial history of cancer, the absence of RAD51 foci in tumor cells, and a high HRD score suggest a deleterious effect of this mutation in gastric cancer. In conclusion, PARPis could represent an effective therapeutic option for BRCA2-mutated and/or high HRD score patients with GEA, including patients with familial intestinal gastric cancer.

Significance: PARP inhibition is a potential strategy for treating patients with gastric cancer with mutated BRCA2 or homologous repair deficiency, including patients with familial intestinal gastric cancer, for whom BRCA2 germline testing should be recommended.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents* / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics
  • BRCA2 Protein / genetics
  • Female
  • Germ-Line Mutation
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stomach Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Stomach Neoplasms* / genetics


  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibitors
  • BRCA1 Protein
  • BRCA2 Protein
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • BRCA2 protein, human