Delineating the intra-patient heterogeneity of molecular alterations in treatment-naïve colorectal cancer with peritoneal carcinomatosis

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In a non-negligible number of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC), the peritoneum is the predominant site of dissemination. Cure can be achieved by cytoreductive surgery (CRS) and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), but this procedure is associated with long-term morbidity and high relapse rates. Thus, there is a pressing need for improved therapeutic strategies and complementary biomarkers. The present study explored the molecular heterogeneity in mCRC with peritoneal carcinomatosis (PC), and the potential clinical implications thereof. Multi-region immunohistochemical profiling and deep targeted DNA-sequencing was performed on chemotherapy-naïve tumours from seven patients with synchronous colorectal PC who underwent CRS and HIPEC. In total, 88 samples (5-19 per patient) were analysed, representing primary tumour, lymph node metastases, tumour deposits, PC and liver metastases. Expression of special AT-rich sequence-binding protein 2 (SATB2), a marker of colorectal lineage, was lacking in the majority of cases, and a conspicuous intra-patient heterogeneity was denoted for expression of the proposed prognostic and predictive biomarker RNA-binding motif protein 3 (RBM3). Loss of mismatch repair proteins MLH1 and PSM2, observed in one case, was concordant with microsatellite instability and the highest tumour mutational burden. When present in a patient, mutations in key CRC driver genes, i.e., KRAS, APC and TP53, were homogenously distributed across all samples, while less common mutations were more heterogenous. On the same note, copy number variations showed intra-patient as well inter-patient heterogeneity. In two out of seven cases, hierarchical clustering revealed that samples from the PC and lymph node metastases were more similar to each other than to the primary tumour. In summary, these findings should encourage additional studies addressing the potential distinctiveness of mCRC with PC, which might pave the way for improved personalized treatment of these patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)979-988
Number of pages10
JournalModern Pathology
Issue number7
Early online date2022 Feb 15
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jul

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Surgery
  • Cancer and Oncology


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