We previously identified amplification of the fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 gene (FGFR1) as a potential therapeutic target for small-molecule inhibitor therapy in squamous cell lung cancer (L-SCC). Currently, clinical phase I trials are underway to examine whether patients with FGFR1-amplified L-SCC benefit from a targeted therapy approach using small-molecule inhibitors. Because most patients with lung cancer present with metastatic disease, we investigated whether lymph node metastases in L-SCC share the FGFR1 amplification status of their corresponding primary tumor.
The study cohort consisted of 72 patients with L-SCC, 39 with regional lymph node metastases. Tissue microarrays were constructed from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue of the primary tumors and, where present, of the corresponding lymph node metastasis. A biotin-labeled target probe spanning the FGFR1 locus (8p11.22-23) was used to determine the FGFR1 amplification status by fluorescence in situ hybridization.
FGFR1 amplification was detected in 16% (12 of 72) of all primary L-SCCs. In metastatic tumors, 18% (seven of 39) of the lymph node metastases displayed FGFR1 amplification with an exact correlation of FGFR1 amplification status between tumor and metastatic tissue.
FGFR1 amplification is a common genetic event occurring at a frequency of 16% in L-SCCs. Moreover, lymph node metastases derived from FGFR1-amplified L-SCCs also exhibit FGFR1 amplification. Therefore, we suggest that the FGFR1 amplification is a clonal event in tumor progression. Beyond this biologically relevant observation, the findings carry potential therapeutic implications in that small-molecule inhibitors may be applicable to the treatment of a subset of patients with metastatic L-SCC.