Medical Oncology, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy.
Introduction: Oxaliplatin (Oxa) is widely used in metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC), but currently there are not valid predictors of response to this drug. In the control arms both of OPUS and PRIME studies Oxa seems more active in patients with mCRC with mutated (mt) KRAS than in those with wild type (wt) KRAS. Recently we have retrospectively confirmed this suggestion, therefore we have hypothesized that the mutational status of KRAS could influence the expression of ERCC1, one of the main mechanisms of Oxa resistance.
Material and Methods: We used four cell lines of colorectal cancer: two KRAS wild type (wt) (HCT-8 and HT-29) and two KRAS mt (SW620 and SW480). We evaluated the sensitivity of these cell lines to Oxa by MTT-test as well the ERCC1 levels before and after 24 h exposure to Oxa by Real-Time PCR. We silenced KRAS in a KRAS mt cell line (SW620LV) to evaluate the impact on Oxa sensitivity and ERCC1 levels. Lastly, ERCC1 was also silenced in order to confirm the importance of this protein as an Oxa resistance factor.
Results: The KRAS mt cell lines resulted more sensitive to Oxa (OR 2.68; IC 95% 1.511-4.757 p<0.001). The basal levels of ERCC1 did not show significant differences between KRAS mt and wt cell lines, however, after 24 h exposure to Oxa, only the wt KRAS lines showed the ability to induce ERCC1, with a statistically significant difference (OR 42.9 IC 95% 17.260-106.972 p<0.0005). By silencing KRAS, sensitivity to Oxa was reduced in mt KRAS cell lines and this effect was associated with the acquisition of ability to induce ERCC1. Silencing of ERCC1, in turn, enhanced the sensitivity to Oxa in wt KRAS cell lines and restored sensitivity to Oxa in SW620LV cell line.
Conclusion: KRAS mutated cell lines were more sensitive to Oxa. This feature seems secondary to the inability of these cells to induce ERCC1 after exposure to Oxa. Thus, KRAS mutational status might be a predictor of response to Oxa in CRC surrogating the cell ability to induce ERCC1.
Keywords: Oxaliplatin, KRAS, ERCC1, colorectal cancer cells.