11 research outputs found

    the curious phenomenon of dual positive circulating cells longtime overlooked tumor cells

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    Abstract The presence in the blood of patients with solid tumors of circulating cells expressing both epithelial and leukocyte markers (dual-positive cells, DPcells), has often been reported, though it has never been investigated in detail. A recent study suggested that DPcells are hybrid cells derived from the fusion of tumor cells with macrophages. Such fusion hybrids acquire macrophage-associated features endowing them with accelerated growth, increased motility, enhanced invasion activity and thus, a higher efficiency in metastasis formation. However, no direct evidence proving the tumor origin of circulating DPcells was provided in patients. Here we contribute a review of literature data on DPcells and on the hybrid theory with the aim of putting the current evidence both in a biological and clinical perspective and to generate new hypotheses on the mechanisms underlying tumor progression. To add further biological and clinical context to our literature review, we also report some preliminary data from our laboratory on the identification of DPcells in several solid tumors and confirmation of their malignant genotype, thus classifying them as DP-CTCs

    The use of liquid biopsy in early breast cancer: clinical evidence and future perspectives

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    Liquid biopsy, including both circulating tumor cells and circulating tumor DNA, is gaining momentum as a diagnostic modality adopted in the clinical management of breast cancer. Prospective studies testing several technologies demonstrated clinical validity and, in some cases, achieved the United States Food and Drug Administration approval. The initial testing and clinical application of liquid biopsy focused primarily on the diagnosis, while molecular characterization and monitoring of metastatic disease, with larger data from prospective studies, came in the last two decades. Although its role in metastatic setting is thus widely recognized, the current evidence does not provide support for the routine clinical use of liquid biopsy methods for the earlier stage of this disease. Considering the relevance of early detection, characterization, and management of breast cancer in the early-stage, this clinical setting is the most suitable to increase the chances for effective treatment selection and improved prognosis, and a better understanding of the main application of liquid biopsy tools in the earlier stage of breast cancer is therefore crucial. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the clinical evidence and subsequent potential applications of liquid biopsy in early breast cancer, identifying the main existing caveats and the possible future scenarios

    Detection of Circulating Tumour Cells in Urothelial Cancers and Clinical Correlations: Comparison of Two Methods

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    Circulating tumour cells (CTC) are identified exploiting their protein/gene expression patterns or distinct size compared to blood cells. Data on CTC in bladder cancer (BC) are still scarce. We comparatively analyzed CTC enrichment by AdnaTest ProstateCancerSelect (AT) and ScreenCell®Cyto (SC) kits, combined with identification by EPCAM, MUC1, and ERBB2 expression and by cytological criteria, respectively, in 19 nonmetastatic (M0) and 47 metastatic (M+) BC patients, at baseline (T0) and during treatment (T1). At T0, CTC positivity rates by AT were higher in M+ compared to M0 cases (57.4% versus 25%, p = 0.041). EPCAM was detected in 75% of CTC-positive samples by AT, showing increasing expression levels from T0 to T1 (median (interquartile range, IQR): 0.18 (0.07–0.42) versus 0.84 (0.33–1.84), p=0.005) in M+ cases. Overall, CTC positivity by SC was around 80% regardless of clinical setting and time point of analysis, except for a lower occurrence at T1 in M0 cases. At T0, circulating tumour microemboli were more frequently (25% versus 8%) detected and more numerous in M+ compared to M0 patients. The approach used for CTC detection impacts the outcome of CTC studies. Further investigations are required to clarify the clinical validity of AT and SC in specific BC clinical contexts

    Gene expression profiling of circulating tumor cells in breast cancer

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    BACKGROUND: Determining the transcriptional profile of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) may allow the acquisition of clinically relevant information while overcoming tumor heterogeneity-related biases associated with use of tissue samples for biomarker assessment. However, such molecular characterization is challenging because CTCs are rare and outnumbered by blood cells. METHODS: Here, we describe a technical protocol to measure the expression of >29 000 genes in CTCs captured from whole blood with magnetic beads linked with antibodies against epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) and the carcinoma-associated mucin, MUC1, designed to be used for CTC characterization in clinical samples. Low numbers of cells (5-200) from the MCF7 and MDA-MB-468 breast cancer cell lines were spiked in healthy donor blood samples and isolated with the AdnaTest EMT-1/Stem CellSelect kit. Gene expression profiles (GEPs) were obtained with the WG-DASL HT assay and compared with GEPs obtained from RNA isolated from cultured cell lines and unspiked samples. RESULTS: GEPs from samples containing 25 or more spiked cells correlated (r = 0.95) with cognate 100-ng RNA input samples, clustered separately from blood control samples, and allowed MCF7 and MDA-MB-468 cells to be distinguished. GEPs with comparable technical quality were also obtained in a preliminary series of clinical samples. CONCLUSIONS: Our approach allows technically reliable GEPs to be obtained from isolated CTCs for the acquisition of biologically useful information. It is reproducible and suitable for application in prospective studies to assess the clinical utility of CTC GEPs, provided that >25 CTCs can be isolated

    Single-Cells Isolation and Molecular Analysis: Focus on HER2-Low CTCs in Metastatic Breast Cancer

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    Although the detection of CTCs expressing HER2 at low intensity (HER2-low CTCs) has been shown to have a negative prognostic value in metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients, the biological intrinsic nature of HER2-low CTCs remains unexplored. Considering the technical challenges behind the selective collection of immunophenotype-specific CTCs, we developed a pipeline to individually capture HER2-low CTCs. Four different breast cancer cell lines (MDA-MB-231, T47D, MDA-MB-453, and SKBR3), that are known to express HER2 at different immunohistochemistry levels (respectively classified as 0, 1+, 2+, and 3+), were spiked in healthy donor blood tubes (7.5 mL) and processed with the CellSearch® (Menarini Silicon Biosystems, Bologna, Italy) for enrichment and the DEPArray NxT™ for single cell selection. The HER2 signal-intensities of each cell line was compared using the nonparametric Mann–Whitney U test. The optimal cut-offs to distinguish HER2 1+ from 0 and 2+ cells were calculated performing the Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve. Median HER2 signal-intensities detected with the DEPArray NxT™ were: 2.59 (0), 3.58 (1+), 5.23 (2+) and 38.37 (3+). DEPArray NxT efficiently differentiated each single cell line (p < 0.001). The area under the ROC curve was 0.69 and 0.70 (respectively 0 vs. 1+ and 1+ vs. 2+) and the optimal calculated cut-offs were 2.85 (lower) and 4.64 (upper). HER2-low CTCs can be detected and separately collected using predetermined intensity cut-offs. This study will allow standardized single-cell or pooled collection of HER2-low CTCs for downstream molecular analyses

    Analysis of Single Circulating Tumor Cells in Renal Cell Carcinoma Reveals Phenotypic Heterogeneity and Genomic Alterations Related to Progression

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    Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are promising biomarkers for prognosis, therapeutic response prediction, and treatment monitoring in cancer patients. Despite its epithelial origin, renal cell carcinoma (RCC) shows low expression of epithelial markers hindering CTC-enrichment approaches exploiting epithelial cell surface proteins. In 21 blood samples serially collected from 10 patients with metastatic RCC entering the TARIBO trial, we overcame this limitation using the marker-independent Parsortix™ approach for CTC-enrichment coupled with positive and negative selection with the DEPArray™ with single cell recovery and analysis for copy number alterations (CNA) by next generation sequencing NGS. Two CTC subpopulations were identified: epithelial CTC (eCTC) and non-conventional CTC (ncCTC) lacking epithelial and leukocyte markers. With a threshold ≥1CTC/10 mL of blood, the positivity rates were 28% for eCTC, 62% for ncCTCs, and 71% considering both CTC types. In two patients with detectable eCTCs at baseline, progression free survival was less than 5 months. In an index case, hierarchical structure by translational oncology (TRONCO) identified three clones among 14 CTCs collected at progression and at baseline, each containing cells with a 9p21.3loss, a well-known metastasis driving subclonal alteration. CTCs detection in RCC can be increased by marker-independent approaches, and CTC molecular characterization can allow detection of subclonal events possibly related to tumor progression

    Detection of Genomically Aberrant Cells within Circulating Tumor Microemboli (CTMs) Isolated from Early-Stage Breast Cancer Patients

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    Circulating tumor microemboli (CTMs) are clusters of cancer cells detached from solid tumors, whose study can reveal mechanisms underlying metastatization. As they frequently comprise unknown fractions of leukocytes, the analysis of copy number alterations (CNAs) is challenging. To address this, we titrated known numbers of leukocytes into cancer cells (MDA-MB-453 and MDA-MB-36, displaying high and low DNA content, respectively) generating tumor fractions from 0–100%. After low-pass sequencing, ichorCNA was identified as the best algorithm to build a linear mixed regression model for tumor fraction (TF) prediction. We then isolated 53 CTMs from blood samples of six early-stage breast cancer patients and predicted the TF of all clusters. We found that all clusters harbor cancer cells between 8 and 48%. Furthermore, by comparing the identified CNAs of CTMs with their matched primary tumors, we noted that only 31–71% of aberrations were shared. Surprisingly, CTM-private alterations were abundant (30–63%), whereas primary tumor-private alterations were rare (4–12%). This either indicates that CTMs are disseminated from further progressed regions of the primary tumor or stem from cancer cells already colonizing distant sites. In both cases, CTM-private mutations may inform us about specific metastasis-associated functions of involved genes that should be explored in follow-up and mechanistic studies

    Single-Cell Phenotypic and Molecular Characterization of Circulating Tumor Cells Isolated from Cryopreserved Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells of Patients with Lung Cancer and Sarcoma

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    Background The isolation of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) requires rapid processing of the collected blood due to their inherent fragility. The ability to recover CTCs from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) preserved from cancer patients could allow for retrospective analyses or multicenter CTC studies. Methods We compared the efficacy of CTC recovery and characterization using cryopreserved PMBCs vs fresh whole blood from patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC; n = 8) and sarcoma (n = 6). Two epithelial cellular adhesion molecule (EpCAM)-independent strategies for CTC enrichment, based on Parsortix(R) technology or immunomagnetic depletion of blood cells (AutoMACS(R)) were tested, followed by DEPArray (TM) single-cell isolation. Phenotype and genotype, assessed by copy number alterations analysis, were evaluated at a single-cell level. Detection of target mutations in CTC-enriched samples from frozen NSCLC PBMCs was also evaluated by digital PCR (dPCR). Results The use of cryopreserved PBMCs from cancer patients allowed for the retrospective enumeration of CTCs and their molecular characterization, using both EpCAM-independent strategies that performed equally in capturing CTC. Cells isolated from frozen PBMCs were representative of whole blood-derived CTCs in terms of number, phenotype, and copy number aberration profile/target mutations. Long-term storage (>= 3 years) did not affect the efficacy of CTC recovery. Detection of target mutations was also feasible by dPCR in CTC-enriched samples derived from stored PBMCs. Conclusions Isolating CTCs from longitudinally collected PBMCs using an unbiased selection strategy can offer a wider range of retrospective genomic/phenotypic analyses to guide patients' personalized therapy, paving the way for sample sharing in multicenter studies

    Interplay between ESR1/PIK3CA codon variants, oncogenic pathway alterations and clinical phenotype in patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC): comprehensive circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) analysis

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    Abstract Background although being central for the biology and druggability of hormone-receptor positive, HER2 negative metastatic breast cancer (MBC), ESR1 and PIK3CA mutations are simplistically dichotomized as mutated or wild type in current clinical practice. Methods The study analyzed a multi-institutional cohort comprising 703 patients with luminal-like MBC characterized for circulating tumor DNA through next generation sequencing (NGS). Pathway classification was defined based on previous work (i.e., RTK, RAS, RAF, MEK, NRF2, ER, WNT, MYC, P53, cell cycle, notch, PI3K). Single nucleotide variations (SNVs) were annotated for their oncogenicity through OncoKB. Only pathogenic variants were included in the models. Associations among clinical characteristics, pathway classification, and ESR1/PIK3CA codon variants were explored. Results The results showed a differential pattern of associations for ESR1 and PIK3CA codon variants in terms of co-occurring pathway alterations patterns of metastatic dissemination, and prognosis. ESR1 537 was associated with SNVs in the ER and RAF pathways, CNVs in the MYC pathway and bone metastases, while ESR1 538 with SNVs in the cell cycle pathway and liver metastases. PIK3CA 1047 and 542 were associated with CNVs in the PI3K pathway and with bone metastases. Conclusions The study demonstrated how ESR1 and PIK3CA codon variants, together with alterations in specific oncogenic pathways, can differentially impact the biology and clinical phenotype of luminal-like MBC. As novel endocrine therapy agents such as selective estrogen receptor degraders (SERDS) and PI3K inhibitors are being developed, these results highlight the pivotal role of ctDNA NGS to describe tumor evolution and optimize clinical decision making