Correlation of Methylated Circulating Tumor DNA With Response to Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy in Breast Cancer Patients

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Abstract

Micro-Abstract

Correlation of methylated circulating tumor DNA (met-ctDNA) with tumor response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) was evaluated in breast cancer patients. In patients with positive met-ctDNA before NAC, met-ctDNA significantly correlated with tumor response and was found to be a more sensitive marker than carcinoembryonic antigen and cancer-associated antigen 15-3. The possibility has also been suggested that met-ctDNA might be useful in monitoring the postoperative recurrence.

Background:

Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) is known to harbor tumor-specific genetic or epigenetic alterations. In the present study, the correlation of ctDNA with tumor response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) was evaluated in primary breast cancer patients.

Patients and Methods:

Plasma samples were obtained from 87 primary breast cancer patients (stage II-III) before and after NAC, as well as 1 year after surgery. Methylated ctDNA (met-ctDNA) was determined by one-step methylation-specific PCR (OS-MSP) for the promoter region of RASSF1A.

Results:

The positivity (23.0%, 20/87) of met-ctDNA before NAC was significantly (P < .05) higher than that of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) (8.6%) and cancer-associated antigen (CA) 15-3 (7.4%). In the patients with positive met-ctDNA before NAC, met-ctDNA significantly decreased after NAC in those with disease that responded to therapy (P = .006), but not in patients whose disease did not respond to therapy. Met-ctDNA after NAC was found to be significantly (P = .008) correlated to the extent of residual tumor burden. Of the 7 patients who showed an increase in met-ctDNA at 1 year after surgery, 3 developed recurrence.

Conclusion:

Met-ctDNA is a more sensitive marker than CEA and CA15-3, and it might be useful in monitoring the clinical tumor response to NAC. In addition, the potential use of met-ctDNA as a tumor marker for monitoring postoperative recurrence has been suggested.

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