mRNA and microRNA expression profiles in circulating tumor cells and primary tumors of metastatic breast cancer patients
Stouthard, Jacqueline M.L.
Deurzen, van, Carolien H.M.
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Philadelphia, Pa :Association for Cancer Research
Clinical cancer research. - Philadelphia, Pa, 1995, currens
, p. 3600-3618
University of Antwerp
Purpose: Molecular characterization of circulating tumor cells (CTC) holds great promise. Unfortunately, routinely isolated CTC fractions currently still contain contaminating leukocytes, which makes CTC-specific molecular characterization extremely challenging. In this study, we determined mRNA and microRNA (miRNA) expression of potentially CTC-specific genes that are considered to be clinically relevant in breast cancer. Experimental Design: CTCs were isolated with the epithelial cell adhesion moleculebased CellSearch Profile Kit. Selected genes were measured by real-time reverse transcriptase PCR in CTCs of 50 metastatic breast cancer patients collected before starting first-line systemic therapy in blood from 53 healthy blood donors (HBD) and in primary tumors of 8 of the patients. The molecular profiles were associated with CTC counts and clinical parameters and compared with the profiles generated from the corresponding primary tumors. Results: We identified 55 mRNAs and 10 miRNAs more abundantly expressed in samples from 32 patients with at least 5 CTCs in 7.5 mL of blood compared with samples from 9 patients without detectable CTCs and HBDs. Clustering analysis resulted in 4 different patient clusters characterized by 5 distinct gene clusters. Twice the number of patients from cluster 2 to 4 had developed both visceral and nonvisceral metastases. Comparing transcript levels in CTCs with those measured in corresponding primary tumors showed clinically relevant discrepancies in estrogen receptor and HER2 levels. Conclusions: Our study shows that molecular profiling of low numbers of CTCs in a high background of leukocytes is feasible and shows promise for further studies on the clinical relevance of molecular characterization of CTCs.