Carcinoma of an unknown primary: Are EGF receptor, Her-2/neu, and c-Kit tyrosine kinases potential targets for therapy?

Department of Medicine, Institut Gustave Roussy, 39 rue Camille Desmoulins, Villejuif 94805, France.
British Journal of Cancer (Impact Factor: 4.84). 01/2009; 99(11):1959. DOI: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604800
Source: PubMed


Carcinomas of an unknown primary site (CUP) are heterogeneous tumours with a median survival of only 8 months. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors are promising new drugs. The aim of this study was to determine the expression of EGF-receptor, Her-2/neu, and c-Kit tyrosine kinases in CUP. Paraffin-embedded specimens were obtained from 54 patients with a CUP who were included in the GEFCAPI 01 randomised phase II trial. Immunohistochemistry was performed using the Dako autostainer with antibodies directed against HER-2/neu protein, EGFR protein, and c-Kit protein (CD117). EGFR expression was found in 36 out of 54 samples (66%). In contrast, Her-2/neu overexpression and c-Kit positivity were only detected in 4 and 10% of patients, respectively. No significant association was found between the expression of the tyrosine kinase receptors and prognosis. EGFR expression was significantly associated with response to cisplatin-based chemotherapy: the response rates were 50 and 22% in patients with EGFR-positive tumours and EGFR-negative tumours, respectively (P<0.05). This study shows that EGFR is frequently expressed in CUP. This finding may prompt clinical trials investigating EGFR inhibitors in this setting. In contrast, c-Kit expression and Her-2/neu overexpression occur infrequently in CUP. EGFR expression was correlated to tumour chemosensitivity.

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Available from: Alain Lortholary, Sep 15, 2014
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    • "The search for targeted therapies that could rationally be applied to patients with CUP is ongoing. For example, expression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is common in CUP [19]. Despite this phenomenon, the first therapeutic trial to incorporate an agent targeting the EGFR tyrosine kinase domain, gefitinib, did not appear to prevent progression of disease after responses were achieved with multiagent chemotherapy [18]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Metastatic carcinoma of unknown primary (CUP) has a very poor prognosis, and no standard first-line therapy currently exists. Here, we report the results of a phase II study utilizing a combination of gemcitabine and irinotecan as first-line therapy. Treatment was with gemcitabine 1000 mg/m2 and irinotecan 75 mg/m2 weekly times four on a six week cycle (Cohort I). Due to excessive toxicity, the dose and schedule were modified as follows: gemcitabine 750 mg/m2 and irinotecan 75 mg/m2 given weekly times three on a four week cycle (Cohort II). The primary endpoint was the confirmed response rate (CR + PR). Secondary endpoints consisted of adverse events based upon the presence or absence of the UDP glucuronosyltransferase 1 family, polypeptide A1*28 (UGT1A1*28) polymorphism, time to progression, and overall survival. Thirty-one patients were enrolled with a median age of 63 (range: 38–94), and 26 patients were evaluable for efficacy. Significant toxicity was observed in Cohort 1, characterized by 50% (7/14) patients experiencing a grade 4+ adverse event, but not in cohort II. The confirmed response rate including patients from both cohorts was 12% (95% CI: 2–30%), which did not meet the criteria for continued enrollment. Overall median survival was 7.2 months (95% CI: 4.0 to 11.6) for the entire cohort but notably longer in cohort II than in cohort I (9.3 months (95% CI: 4.1 to 12.1) versus 4.0 months (95% CI: 2.2 to 15.6)). Gemcitabine and irinotecan is not an active combination when used as first line therapy in patients with metastatic carcinoma of unknown primary. Efforts into developing novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches remain important for improving the outlook for this heterogeneous group of patients. Trial Registration NCT00066781
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · PLoS ONE
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    • "Interestingly immunohistochemistry studies demonstrated that EGFR is frequently expressed in CUPs, whereas c-KIT and HER2/neu are infrequently activated. Notably no significant association has been established between EGFR expression level and patients prognosis [78]. "
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    ABSTRACT: It is widely accepted that systemic neoplastic spread is a late event in tumour progression. However, sometimes, rapidly invasive cancers are diagnosed because of appearance of metastatic lesions in absence of a clearly detectable primary mass. This kind of disease is referred to as cancer of unknown primary (CUP) origin and accounts for 3-5% of all cancer diagnosis. There is poor consensus on the extent of diagnostic and pathologic evaluations required for these enigmatic cases which still lack effective treatment. Although technology to predict the primary tumour site of origin is improving rapidly, the key issue is concerning the biology which drives early occult metastatic spreading. This review provides the state of the art about clinical and therapeutic management of this malignant syndrome; main interest is addressed to the most recent improvements in CUP molecular biology and pathology, which will lead to successful tailored therapeutic options.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2012 · Journal of Translational Medicine
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    • "Intense membrane expression of c-kit was found in Capi3 cells in the xenografted tumor as well as in the surgical specimen. We and others have found that the c-kit protein is detected in about 10% of CUP specimens [2,26]. Using the c-kit tyrosine kinase inhibitor, imatinib mesylate, remarkable therapeutic results have been achieved in human malignancies overexpressing a mutated form of c-kit, especially GISTs. "
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    ABSTRACT: Carcinomas of unknown primary site (CUP) are epithelial malignancies revealed by metastatic lesions in the absence of any detectable primary tumor. Although they often adopt an aggressive clinical pattern, their basic biology remains poorly understood. Laboratory research on their biology have been hampered so far by the absence of cell lines representative of CUPs. We attempted xenografts of CUP clinical specimens in immunodeficient mice and subsequent in vitro culture of transplanted malignant cells. Whenever possible, malignant xenografted or cultured cells were characterized by microsatellite genotyping, immunohistology, electron microscopy, multifish chromosome analysis and search of TP 53 gene mutations. Successful xenografts were achieved in 2 cases out of 4. One of them (Capi1) was lost after 3 passages whereas the other one (Capi3) has been adapted to in vitro culture and is currently available to the scientific community with reliable identification based on microsatellite genotyping. Both Capi1 and Capi3 have histological characteristics of adenocarcinomas and display intense expression of EMA, CEA and cytokeratin 7. Multifish chromosome analysis demonstrated a translocation involving chromosomes 4 and 21 in both specimens. Distinct rare missense mutations of the TP53 gene were detected in Capi1 (codon 312) and Capi3 (codon 181); the codon 181 mutation is consistent with a previously reported similar finding in a small series of CUP specimens. Finally, intense membrane expression of c-kit was recorded in Capi3. Our data suggest that xenografted tumors can be obtained from a substantial fraction of CUP clinical specimens. The hypothesis of a preferential association of CUPs with TP 53 mutations of codon 181 deserves further investigations. The Capi3 cell line will be a useful tool for assessment of novel c-kit inhibitors.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2007 · BMC Cancer
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