Targeted oncology

A mutant BRAF V600E-specific immunohistochemical assay: correlation with molecular mutation status and clinical outcome in colorectal cancer.

PMID 24859797


The B-type Raf kinase (BRAF) V600E mutation is a well-established biomarker for poor prognosis in metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) and is a highly attractive drug target. A barrier to the development of new therapies targeting BRAF V600E in mCRC is the low prevalence of mutations (approximately 10xa0%) and the current need for access to sequencing-based technologies which are not routinely available outside of large cancer centres. Availability of a standardised immunohistochemistry (IHC) test, more suited to routine pathology practice, would provide much broader access to patient identification. We sought to evaluate the accuracy and clinical utility of a recently developed BRAF V600E IHC method as a prognostic biomarker in a large cohort of community-based CRC patients. Archival tumour samples from 505 patients with stage I-IV CRC were immunohistochemically tested with two antibodies, pBR1 for total BRAF and VE1 for BRAF V600E. Cases were assessed by two blinded pathologists, and results were compared to BRAF V600E mutation status determined using DNA sequencing. Discordant cases were retested with a BRAF V600E SNaPshot assay. BRAF mutation status was correlated with overall survival (OS) in stage IV CRC. By DNA sequencing and IHC, 505 and 477 patients were respectively evaluable. Out of 477 patients, 56 (11. 7xa0%) had BRAF V600E mutations detected by sequencing and 63 (13.2xa0%) by IHC. Using DNA sequencing results as the reference, sensitivity and specificity for IHC were 98.2xa0% (55/56) and 98.1xa0% (413/421), respectively. IHC had a positive predictive value (PPV) of 87.3xa0% (55/63) and a negative predictive value (NPV) of 99.8xa0% (413/414). Compared to DNA sequencing plus retesting of available discordant cases by SNaPshot assay, IHC using the VE1 antibody had a 100xa0% sensitivity (59/59), specificity (416/416), NPV (416/416) and PPV (59/59). Stage IV CRC patients with BRAF V600E protein detected by IHC exhibited a significantly shorter overall survival (hazard ratio = 2.20, 95xa0% CI 1.26-3.83, p = 0.005), consistent with other published series. Immunohistochemistry using the BRAF V600E VE1 antibody is an accurate diagnostic assay in CRC. The test provides a simple, clinically applicable method of testing for the BRAF V600E mutation in routine practice.