Research Papers:

Quantification of mutant alleles in circulating tumor DNA can predict survival in lung cancer

Xue Yang, Minglei Zhuo, Xin Ye, Hua Bai, Zhijie Wang, Yun Sun, Jun Zhao, Tongtong An, Jianchun Duan, Meina Wu and Jie Wang _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:20810-20824. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.8021

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Xue Yang1,*, Minglei Zhuo1,*, Xin Ye2, Hua Bai1, Zhijie Wang1, Yun Sun2, Jun Zhao1, Tongtong An1, Jianchun Duan1, Meina Wu1, Jie Wang1

1Department of Thoracic Medical Oncology, Key Laboratory of Carcinogenesis and Translational Research (Ministry of Education), Peking University Cancer Hospital and Institute, Beijing, China

2Asia and Emerging Markets Innovative Medicine of AstraZeneca R & D, Shanghai, China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Jie Wang, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: non-small-cell lung cancer, epidermal growth factor receptor, circulating tumor DNA, droplet digital PCR, next-generation sequencing

Received: August 25, 2015     Accepted: February 15, 2016     Published: March 10, 2016


Purpose: We aimed to investigate the feasibility of droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) for the quantitative and dynamic detection of EGFR mutations and next generation sequencing (NGS) for screening EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKIs) resistance-relevant mutations in circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) from advanced lung adenocarcinoma (ADC) patients.

Results: Detection limit of EGFR mutation in ctDNA by ddPCR was 0.04%. Taking the EGFR mutation in tumor tissue as the golden standard, the concordance of EGFR mutations detected in ctDNA was 74% (54/73). Patients with EGFR mutation in ctDNA (n = 54) superior progression-free survival (PFS, median, 12.6 vs. 6.7 months, P < 0.001) and overall survival (OS, median, 35.6 vs. 23.8 months, P = 0.028) compared to those with EGFR wild type in ctDNA (n = 19). Patients with high EGFR-mutated abundance in ctDNA (> 5.15%) showed better PFS compared to those with low EGFR mutated abundance (≤ 5.15%) (PFS, median, 15.4 vs. 11.1 months, P = 0.021). NGS results showed that 66.6% (8/12) total mutational copy number were elevated and 76.5% (26/34) mutual mutation frequency increased after disease progression.

Methods: Seventy-three advanced ADC patients with tumor tissues carrying EGFR mutations and their matched pre- and post-EGFR-TKIs plasma samples were enrolled in this study. Absolute quantities of plasma EGFR mutant and wild-type alleles were measured by ddPCR. Multi-genes testing was performed using NGS in 12 patients.

Conclusions: Dynamic and quantitative analysis of EGFR mutation in ctDNA could guide personalized therapy for advanced ADC. NGS shows good performance in multiple genes testing especially novel and uncommon genes.

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