Measurement of Serum EGFR mRNA Expression is a Reliable Predictor of Treatment Response and Survival Outcomes in Non- Small Cell Lung Cancer

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Department of Pulmonary Medicine and Sleep Disorders, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.

2 Department of Biochemistry, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India.

3 Department of Biostatistics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.

4 Department of Pathology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.

5 Department of Nuclear Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.


Background: EGFR over-expression plays a key role in the development and progression of lung cancer. However, its status as a prognostic biomarker for survival outcomes is unclear. Objectives: To evaluate the prognostic utility of serum EGFR mRNA expression in Non-Small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) for treatment response and survival. Methods: EGFR mRNA levels were determined in serum using quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Based on ROC curve, a cut off value of 16.0-fold increase was selected to categorize patients into low EGFR (≤ 16.0) and high EGFR (> 16.0) groups. Results: A total of 350 subjects were included (78.3% males), with mean (± SD) age of 57.1 (± 11.2) years, and including 247 (70.6%) adenocarcinoma (ADC). Majority (73.1%) had metastatic (stage IV) disease. Patients had higher pre-treatment serum EGFR mRNA levels than controls [median fold-increase (min, max), 16.2 (1.9, 66.7). Serum EGFR mRNA levels significantly reduced in those who achieved objective response and disease control. Significantly longer OS and PFS was observed in subjects having baseline EGFR mRNA expression ≤ 16.0 fold- increase compared to those with > 16.0 fold- increase [median (95% CI) OS: 25.0 (14.9, NR) versus 7.7 (6.3, 8.9) months; HR (95% CI) 2.9 (2.3, 4.0), p < 0.001; and PFS: 9.9 (7.1, 11.5) versus 6.0 (4.1, 7.5) months; HR (95% CI) 1.8 (1.3, 2.4), p < 0.001]. Conclusion: Serum EGFR mRNA expression is a useful parameter for predicting treatment response and survival outcomes in NSCLC.


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