Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 14, Issue 7, pp 2150–2158 | Cite as

Pancreatic Cancer Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) Intron 1 Polymorphism Influences Postoperative Patient Survival and in vitro Erlotinib Response

  • Ching-Wei D. Tzeng
  • Andrey Frolov
  • Natalya Frolova
  • Nirag C. Jhala
  • J. Harrison Howard
  • Selwyn M. Vickers
  • Donald J. Buchsbaum
  • Martin J. Heslin
  • J. Pablo Arnoletti
Laboratory Research



Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) has a highly polymorphic CA repeat region that affects transcription efficiency and anti-EGFR drug sensitivity in carcinomas. Erlotinib is an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor approved for pancreatic cancer treatment. We analyzed the impact of EGFR intron 1 CA repeat lengths in pancreatic cancer clinical outcome and in vitro response to erlotinib.


Allele-specific EGFR intron 1 lengths were analyzed in 30 microdissected pancreatic cancer surgical specimens, matched peripheral blood samples, and 9 pancreatic cancer cell lines treated with erlotinib. CA repeat lengths were correlated with survival, tumor parameters, molecular markers of EGFR pathway activation, and in vitro antiproliferative effects of erlotinib.


Both patient samples and cell lines displayed the full spectrum of EGFR CA repeat lengths (14–22 per allele). Patients with shorter sum of total CA repeats (<36) had worse median survival than patients with ≥36 repeats (13.7 vs 30.6 months, P = .002). Shorter patient EGFR intron 1 length correlated with EGFR expression (P = .026). Tumor intron 1 length was identical to that of matched peripheral blood specimens. There was no correlation between EGFR intron 1 length and pancreatic cancer stage, nodal status, grade, or expression of p-EGFR, p-ERK and p-Akt. Shorter EGFR intron 1 length was associated with in vitro response to erlotinib treatment (P = .02).


Shorter EGFR intron 1 CA repeat length is associated with worse pancreatic cancer clinical prognosis and in vitro response to erlotinib. EGFR intron 1 length can be reliably measured in peripheral blood and may translate into a quantitative predictive marker of both pancreatic cancer aggressiveness and erlotinib sensitivity.


EGFR Epidermal growth factor receptor Pancreatic cancer Intron 1 Polymorphism Erlotinib 


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Copyright information

© Society of Surgical Oncology 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ching-Wei D. Tzeng
    • 1
  • Andrey Frolov
    • 1
  • Natalya Frolova
    • 2
  • Nirag C. Jhala
    • 2
  • J. Harrison Howard
    • 1
  • Selwyn M. Vickers
    • 3
  • Donald J. Buchsbaum
    • 4
  • Martin J. Heslin
    • 1
  • J. Pablo Arnoletti
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA
  2. 2.Department of PathologyUniversity of Alabama of BirminghamBirminghamUSA
  3. 3.Department of SurgeryUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  4. 4.Department of Radiation OncologyUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA

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