p53 mutations as a possible predictor of response to chemotherapy in metastatic colorectal carcinomas

Int J Cancer. 1996 Jun 21;69(3):190-2. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0215(19960621)69:3<190::AID-IJC7>3.0.CO;2-V.


Although intrahepatic infusion therapy with 5-fluorouracil for unresectable colorectal liver metastases may lead to improved overall survival for some patients, it is not clear why a response is not observed in others. Gene alterations in oncogenes or tumor-suppressor genes are critical events in tumor formation, and some of them could play a role in the process of drug resistance. The tumor-suppressor gene p53, which is known to trigger cell arrest or apoptosis in response to DNA damage, is found to be mutated in a wide range of human tumors. The aim of this work is to establish whether a relationship is found between p53 mutations and survival in patients undergoing adjuvant chemotherapy for advanced Dukes' D colorectal cancers. Seventeen tumors from patients treated with 5-fluorouracil regimen via intrahepatic infusion for unresectable colorectal hepatic metastasis were considered. p53 mutations from tumor DNA were detected, after amplification by PCR of exons 5 to 8, by non-radioactive single-strand conformation polymorphism and direct DNA sequencing. Patients with mutated p53 colorectal tumors had short survival, whereas prolonged survival was associated with the presence of wild-type p53 (p = 0.019). Our data suggest that mutated p53 colorectal tumors had a weak response, or even no response, to chemotherapeutic treatment. Routine assessment of p53 status would be helpful in selecting patients with only wild-type p53 gene who have a predictably better response to chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics*
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Fluorouracil / therapeutic use*
  • Genes, p53*
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Fluorouracil