Validation of Cell-Free RNA and Circulating Tumor Cells for Molecular Marker Analysis in Metastatic Prostate Cancer

Abstract :

Since tissue material is often lacking in metastatic prostate cancer (mPCa), there is increasing interest in using liquid biopsies for treatment decision and monitoring therapy responses. The purpose of this study was to validate the usefulness of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and plasma-derived cell-free (cf) RNA as starting material for gene expression analysis through qPCR. CTCs were identified upon prostate-specific membrane antigen and/or cytokeratin positivity after enrichment with ScreenCell (Westford, Massachusetts, USA) filters or the microfluidic ParsortixTM (Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom) system. Overall, 50% (28/56) of the patients had ≥5 CTCs/7.5 mL of blood. However, CTC count did not correlate with Gleason score, serum PSA, or gene expression. Notably, we observed high expression of CD45 in CTC samples after enrichment, which could be successfully eliminated through picking of single cells. Gene expression in picked CTCs was, however, rather low. In cfRNA from plasma, on the other hand, gene expression levels were higher compared to those found in CTCs. Moreover, we found that PSA was significantly increased in plasma-derived cfRNA of mPCa patients compared to healthy controls. High PSA expression was also associated with poor overall survival, indicating that using cfRNA from plasma could be used as a valuable tool for molecular expression analysis.

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