Application of plasma circulating KRAS mutations as a predictive biomarker for targeted treatment of pancreatic cancer

Cancer Sci. 2024 Apr;115(4):1283-1295. doi: 10.1111/cas.16104. Epub 2024 Feb 13.


Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS) mutations in circulating tumor deoxyribonucleic acid (ctDNA) have been reported as representative noninvasive prognostic markers for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Here, we aimed to evaluate single KRAS mutations as prognostic and predictive biomarkers, with an emphasis on potential therapeutic approaches to PDAC. A total of 128 patients were analyzed for multiple or single KRAS mutations (G12A, G12C, G12D, G12R, G12S, G12V, and G13D) in their tumors and plasma using droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR). Overall, KRAS mutations were detected by multiplex ddPCR in 119 (93%) of tumor DNA and 68 (53.1%) of ctDNA, with a concordance rate of 80% between plasma ctDNA and tumor DNA in the metastatic stage, which was higher than the 44% in the resectable stage. Moreover, the prognostic prediction of both overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) was more relevant using plasma ctDNA than tumor DNA. Further, we evaluated the selective tumor-suppressive efficacy of the KRAS G12C inhibitor sotorasib in a patient-derived organoid (PDO) from a KRAS G12C-mutated patient using a patient-derived xenograft (PDX) model. Sotorasib showed selective inhibition in vitro and in vivo with altered tumor microenvironment, including fibroblasts and macrophages. Collectively, screening for KRAS single mutations in plasma ctDNA and the use of preclinical models of PDO and PDX with genetic mutations would impact precision medicine in the context of PDAC.

Keywords: KRAS; KRAS G12C inhibitor; circulating tumor DNA; pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma; patient‐derived organoid.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal* / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal* / genetics
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras) / genetics
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • KRAS protein, human