Diagnostic Strategies toward Clinical Implementation of Liquid Biopsy RAS/BRAF Circulating Tumor DNA Analyses in Patients with Metastatic Colorectal Cancer

Iris van 't Erve, Marjolein J.E. Greuter, Karen Bolhuis, Daan C.L. Vessies, Alessandro Leal, Geraldine R. Vink, Daan van den Broek, Victor E. Velculescu, Cornelis J.A. Punt, Gerrit A. Meijer, Veerle M.H. Coupé, Remond J.A. Fijneman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Detection of KRAS, NRAS, and BRAF mutations in tumor tissue is currently used to predict resistance to treatment with anti–epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) antibodies in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Liquid biopsies are minimally invasive, and cell-free circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) mutation analyses may better represent tumor heterogeneity. This study examined the incorporation of liquid biopsy RAS/BRAF ctDNA analyses into diagnostic strategies to determine mCRC patient eligibility for anti-EGFR therapy. Tumor tissue and liquid biopsies were collected from 100 mCRC patients with liver-only metastases in a multicenter prospective clinical trial. Three diagnostic strategies incorporating droplet digital PCR ctDNA analyses were compared with routine tumor tissue RAS/BRAF mutation profiling using decision tree analyses. Tissue DNA mutations in KRAS, NRAS, and BRAF were present in 54%, 0%, and 3% of mCRC patients, respectively. A 93% concordance was observed between tissue DNA and liquid biopsy ctDNA mutations. The proportion of patients with RAS/BRAF alterations increased from 57% to 60% for diagnostic strategies that combined tissue and liquid biopsy mutation analyses. Consecutive RAS/BRAF ctDNA analysis followed by tissue DNA analysis in case of a liquid biopsy–negative result appeared to be the most optimal diagnostic strategy to comprehensively determine eligibility for anti-EGFR therapy in a cost-saving manner. These results highlight the potential clinical utility of liquid biopsies for detecting primary resistance to anti-EGFR–targeted therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1430-1437
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Molecular Diagnostics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

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