Background: Active efflux of irinotecan by ATP-binding cassette (ABC)-transporters, in particular ABCB1 and ABCG2, is a well-established drug resistance mechanism in vitro and in pre-clinical mouse models, but its relevance in colorectal cancer (CRC) patients is unknown. Therefore, we assessed the association between ABC-transporter expression and tumour response to irinotecan in patients with metastatic CRC. Methods: Tissue microarrays of a large cohort of metastatic CRC patients treated with irinotecan in a prospective study (CAIRO study; n=566) were analysed for expression of ABCB1 and ABCG2 by immunohistochemistry. Kaplan-Meier and Cox proportional hazard regression analyses were performed to assess the association of ABC transporter expression with irinotecan response. Gene expression profiles of 17 paired tumours were used to assess the concordance of ABCB1/ABCG2 expression in primary CRC and corresponding metastases. Results: The response to irinotecan was not significantly different between primary tumours with positive versus negative expression of ABCB1 (5.8 vs 5.7 months, p=0.696) or ABCG2 (5.7 vs 6.1 months, p=0.811). Multivariate analysis showed neither ABCB1 nor ABCG2 were independent predictors for progression free survival. There was a mediocre to poor concordance between ABC-transporter expression in paired tumours. Conclusion: In metastatic CRC, ABC-transporter expression in the primary tumour does not predict irinotecan response.
- Metastatic colorectal cancer
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