Circulating Cell-Free DNA and Circulating Tumor Cells as Prognostic and Predictive Biomarkers in Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients Treated with First-Line Chemotherapy

Abstract :

Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) and circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are promising prognostic and predictive biomarkers in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In this study, we examined the prognostic role of cfDNA and CTCs, in separate and joint analyses, in NSCLC patients receiving first line chemotherapy. Seventy-three patients with advanced NSCLC were enrolled in this study. CfDNA and CTC were analyzed at baseline and after two cycles of chemotherapy. Plasma cfDNA quantification was performed by quantitative PCR (qPCR) whereas CTCs were isolated by the ScreenCell Cyto (ScreenCell, Paris, France) device and enumerated according to malignant features. Patients with baseline cfDNA higher than the median value (96.3 hTERT copy number) had a significantly worse overall survival (OS) and double the risk of death (hazard ratio (HR): 2.14; 95% confidence limits (CL) = 1.24-3.68; p-value = 0.006). Conversely, an inverse relationship between CTC median baseline number (6 CTC/3 mL of blood) and OS was observed. In addition, we found that in patients reporting stable disease (SD), the baseline cfDNA and CTCs were able to discriminate patients at high risk of poor survival. cfDNA demonstrated a more reliable biomarker than CTCs in the overall population. In the subgroup of SD patients, both biomarkers identified patients at high risk of poor prognosis who might deserve additional/alternative therapeutic interventions.

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