Frequent PIK3CA gene amplification and its clinical significance in colorectal cancer

Document Type



Centre for Regenerative Medicine


Using a DNA microarray approach to screen for gene copy number changes in 20 colorectal (CR) carcinoma samples and filtering for high-level DNA copy number changes, we detected an amplicon at 3q26 containing the PIK3CA gene. Fluorescence in situ hybridization was employed for evaluation of PIK3CA amplification on a progression CR tissue microarray containing 448 CR carcinomas, normal mucosa, and adenomas with follow-up information. PIK3CA amplification (ratio PIK3CA/centromere 32.0) was found in 38% of cancers, while another 19% of tumours had PIK3CA gains (ratio >1.0 but <2.0). Both PIK3CA amplification and gains were associated with high levels of PIK3CA protein expression and no association was seen between PIK3CA amplification and PIK3CA mutation. In a subset of 220 patients who received adjuvant chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, survival in patients with PIK3CA-amplified cancers was significantly longer compared with patients with cancers without amplification. This association was independent of stage, grade, histology subtype, gender, and age categories. Interestingly, PIK3CA amplification was also seen in CR adenomas, indicating an early genetic alteration, and was also a frequent event in colorectal carcinogenesis. Furthermore, PIK3CA amplification is an independent prognostic marker for better survival and may be one of the promising markers to define CRC subsets that may maximally benefit from adjuvant therapy. Copyright © 2009 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

The Journal of Pathology