ACVRL1 (activin receptor like-protein 1) mediates tumor angiogenesis; however, its utility as a predictive or prognostic biomarker in colorectal cancer is unclear. We present the first evidence from a phase III study that intratumoral ACVRL1 expression is associated with tumor response and survival among metastatic colorectal cancer patients undergoing first-line bevacizumab chemotherapy. These results could guide the selection of colorectal cancer patients for chemotherapy and antiangiogenic therapy.Background:
No biomarkers exist to predict benefit from antiangiogenic therapy in metastatic colorectal cancer patients. ACVRL1 (activin receptor like-protein 1) encodes for ALK1, a member of the transforming growth factor-β receptor family, which directs pathologic angiogenesis. We examined the intratumoral expression of ACVRL1 and other angiogenesis pathway-related genes to identify molecular markers in the TRIBE study.Materials and Methods:
Of 503 randomized patients, 228 had sufficient tissue for analysis. Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded specimens were examined for expression of VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, VEGFR1, VEGFR2, ACVRL1, EphB4, and EGFL7 using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. A maximal χ2 approach was used to determine the messenger RNA levels associated with progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS), response rate, early tumor shrinkage, and depth of response. Recursive partitioning trees were constructed to identify composite prognostic biomarker profiles. External validation was conducted in silico using the Oncomine database.Results:
High ACVRL1 expression was associated with superior OS in both treatment arms (FOLFOXIRI [5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, oxaliplatin, irinotecan]-bevacizumab, 32.7 vs. 13.5 months, hazard ratio [HR], 0.38, P = .023; FOLFIRI [5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, irinotecan]-bevacizumab, 35.1 vs. 22.0 months, HR, 0.36, P = .006) and prolonged PFS (11.7 vs. 5.9 months, multivariate HR, 0.17; P = .001) for patients receiving FOLFOXIRI-bevacizumab on univariate and multivariate analyses. In recursive partitioning analysis, ACVRL1 was the strongest discriminator of the response rate, PFS, and OS in patients receiving FOLFOXIRI-bevacizumab and of OS in patients receiving FOLFIRI-bevacizumab. In silico validation revealed significant associations between ACVRL1 expression, disease recurrence, and 1-year survival (P < .05) among all colorectal cancer stages.Conclusion:
ACVRL1 expression could serve as a prognostic biomarker in metastatic colorectal cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and bevacizumab and warrants further evaluation in prospective studies.