Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Mutations Are Associated with Docetaxel Sensitivity in Lung Cancer

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A recent large randomized controlled trial revealed that patients with lung cancer with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations had better prognoses when treated with the EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitor, gefitinib, than with cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agents. Lung cancer with EGFR mutations is highly sensitive to EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors. The previous trial implied that EGFR mutations might be predictive of the response to cytotoxic chemotherapy.


Forty-six tumor tissue specimens (32 adenocarcinomas and 14 nonadenocarcinomas) were obtained from patients with lung cancer who underwent surgical resection. EGFR mutations were detected using polymerase chain reaction-invader assay. A histoculture drug response assay was used as an in vitro drug sensitivity test. The inhibition rates of cisplatin, docetaxel (DOC), vinorelbine, and gemcitabine were measured.


Sensitizing EGFR mutations were detected in samples from 14 patients, all with adenocarcinomas. The inhibition rate of cisplatin in tumors with EGFR mutations (group M) was 34.8 ± 15.5%, which was significantly lower (p = 0.0153) than in wild-type tumors (group W; 46.6 ± 14.0%). The inhibition rate of DOC in group M (18.8 ± 13.4%) was also significantly lower (p = 0.0051) than in group W (35.4 ± 19.1%). There were no significant differences in inhibition rates of gemcitabine and vinorelbine between groups M and W. Inhibition rates of DOC were significantly lower in group M (p = 0.0256) than in group W (32.6 ± 18.4) in samples from patients with adenocarcinoma.


The histoculture drug response assay indicated that lung cancers with EGFR mutations were less sensitive to DOC than EGFR wild-type tumors.

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