Cell-Free DNA Variant Sequencing Using Plasma and AR-V7 Testing of Circulating Tumor Cells in Prostate Cancer Patients.

Prostate cancer (PCa) is the second most common malignant cancer and is a major cause of morbidity and mortality among men worldwide. There is still an urgent need for biomarkers applicable for diagnosis, prognosis, therapy prediction, or therapy monitoring in PCa. Liquid biopsies, including cell-free DNA (cfDNA) and circulating tumor cells (CTCs), are a valuable source for studying such biomarkers and are minimally invasive. In our study, we investigated the cfDNA of 34 progressive PCa patients, via targeted sequencing, for sequence variants and for the occurrence of CTCs, with a focus on androgen receptor splice variant 7 (AR-V7)-positive CTCs. The cfDNA content was associated with overall survival (OS; p = 0.014), disease-specific survival (DSS; p = 0.004), and time to treatment change (TTC; p = 0.001). Moreover, when considering all sequence variants grouped by their functional impact and allele frequency, a significant association with TTC (p = 0.017) was observed. When investigating only pathogenic or likely pathogenic gene variants, variants of the BRCA1 gene (p = 0.029) and the AR ligand-binding domain (p = 0.050) were associated with a shorter TTC. Likewise, the presence of CTCs was associated with a shorter TTC (p = 0.031). The presence of AR-V7-positive CTCs was associated with TTC (p < 0.001) in Kaplan-Meier analysis. Interestingly, all patients with AR-V7-positive CTCs also carried TP53 point mutations. Altogether, analysis of cfDNA and CTCs can provide complementary information that may support temporal and targeted treatment decisions and may elucidate the optimal choice within the variety of therapy options for advanced PCa patients.

Cells. 2021 Nov 18*** epublish ***

Verena Lieb, Amer Abdulrahman, Katrin Weigelt, Siegfried Hauch, Michael Gombert, Juan Guzman, Laura Bellut, Peter J Goebell, Robert Stöhr, Arndt Hartmann, Bernd Wullich, Helge Taubert, Sven Wach

Department of Urology and Pediatric Urology, Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, 91054 Erlangen, Germany., QIAGEN GmbH, 40724 Hilden, Germany., Comprehensive Cancer Center Erlangen-EMN (CCC ER-EMN), 91054 Erlangen, Germany.

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