Background: Fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 (FGFR2) genetic alterations lead to tumor cell proliferation in various types of cancer. We hypothesized that FGFR2 amplification is associated with FGFR2 expression, resulting in tumor growth and poorer outcome in esophagogastric junction (EGJ) adenocarcinoma. Patients and methods: A total of 176 consecutive chemo-naive patients with EGJ adenocarcinoma were enrolled from two academic institutions. FGFR2 amplification was examined by real-time PCR (N = 140) and FGFR2 expression with immunohistochemical staining (N = 176), and compared against clinicopathological factors and patient outcomes. The effects of FGFR2 inhibition or overexpression on cell proliferation, cell cycle, and apoptosis assays were investigated in EGJ adenocarcinoma cell lines. Downstream FGFR2, AKT and ERK were also examined. Results: Based on the correlation between FGFR2 levels and FGFR2 overexpression in vitro, FGFR2 amplification was defined as copy number > 3.0. In clinical samples, FGFR2 amplification and FGFR2 IHC expression were 15% and 61%, respectively. Although these two statuses were significantly correlated (P < 0.05), only FGFR2 IHC expression was significantly associated with tumor depth (multivariate P < 0.001) and overall survival of patients (univariate P = 0.007). Supporting these findings, FGFR2 overexpression was associated with tumor cell proliferation, cell cycle progression, and anti-apoptosis. Selective inhibition of FGFR2 sufficiently suppressed tumor cell proliferation through de-phosphorylation of AKT and ERK. Conclusion: FGFR2 amplification was significantly associated with FGFR2 expression. FGFR2 expression (but not FGFR2 amplification) was associated with tumor growth and patient outcomes. Our findings support FGFR2 as a novel therapeutic target for EGJ adenocarcinoma.
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