Pathology & Oncology Research

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 307–315 | Cite as

Variations in EGFR ctDNA Correlates to the Clinical Efficacy of Afatinib in Non Small Cell Lung Cancer with Acquired Resistance

  • Jinfeng He
  • Wei Tan
  • Xuelian Tang
  • Jingping MaEmail author
Original Article


Monitoring of non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients on afatinib after acquired resistance to 1st generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors is important. Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) offers an attractive means other than conventional tissue biopsy to characterize real time dynamic changes of the disease. In our study, we aim to ascertain the clinical value for ctDNA monitoring of NSCLC patients with acquired resistance for afatinib treatment. 200 patients positive for the activating epithermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations were recruited for the study. Baseline molecular profiling for L858R, Exon 19 deletion and T790M were performed. Thereafter, serial blood samples were taken and patients were assessed by overall survival (OS) to determine the usefulness of ctDNA monitoring. At baseline, matched tumor biopsy and ctDNA analysis had a concordance agreement of 93.5% for L858R and exon 19 deletion. We also determined that a large proportion of patients had the drug resistance mutation T790M prior to starting afatinib and these patients were linked to a worse survival outcome. For patients that registered a drop in ctDNA levels after afatinib was administered, we observed that their survival outcome was more favorable (hazard ratio 1.56, (95% CI 1.04 to 2.43). ctDNA levels were mostly elevated after the 3rd sampling cycle. Our results suggest that ctDNA can be used to predict the clinical benefits of afatinib treatment. Pre and post blood sampling aids to identify patient groups that may benefit most from the treatment and ctDNA is relatively sensitive to address the dynamic changes of the disease at the molecular level.


Non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) EGFR mutations Acquired resistance Afatinib ctDNA 



This work was supported by a research grant provided by the Jingzhou Central Hospital.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

All other authors declare no conflict of interest.

Author’s Contribution

J.H and J.M designed the experiments. J.H, W.T and X.T performed the experiments and ctDNA analysis. J.H and J.M interpreted the data and wrote the manuscript.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

12253_2016_97_MOESM1_ESM.doc (797 kb)
Supplementary Figure 1. (DOC 797 kb)
12253_2016_97_MOESM2_ESM.doc (166 kb)
Supplementary Figure 2. (DOC 166 kb)
12253_2016_97_MOESM3_ESM.doc (468 kb)
Supplementary Figure 3. (DOC 468 kb)


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Copyright information

© Arányi Lajos Foundation 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jinfeng He
    • 1
  • Wei Tan
    • 2
  • Xuelian Tang
    • 1
  • Jingping Ma
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Respiratory Medicine, Jingzhou Central Hospital, The Second Clinical Medical CollegeYangtze UniversityJingzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Haemodialysis Centre, Jingzhou Central Hospital, The Second Clinical Medical CollegeYangtze UniversityJingzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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