Molecular analysis of circulating tumor cells identifies distinct copy-number profiles in patients with chemosensitive and chemorefractory small-cell lung cancer

Louise Carter, Dominic Rothwell, Barbara Mesquita, Christopher Smowton, Hui Sun Leong, Fabiola Fernandez-Gutierrez, Yaoyong Li, Deborah J Burt, Jenny Antonello, Christopher J. Morrow, Cassandra Hodgkinson, Karen Morris, Lynsey Priest, Mathew Carter, Crispin Miller, Andrew Hughes, Fiona Blackhall, Caroline Dive, Gerard Brady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In most patients with small-cell lung cancer (SCLC)-a metastatic, aggressive disease-the condition is initially chemosensitive but then relapses with acquired chemoresistance. In a minority of patients, however, relapse occurs within 3 months of initial treatment; in these cases, disease is defined as chemorefractory. The molecular mechanisms that differentiate chemosensitive from chemorefractory disease are currently unknown. To identify genetic features that distinguish chemosensitive from chemorefractory disease, we examined copy-number aberrations (CNAs) in circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from pretreatment SCLC blood samples. After analysis of 88 CTCs isolated from 13 patients (training set), we generated a CNA-based classifier that we validated in 18 additional patients (testing set, 112 CTC samples) and in six SCLC patient-derived CTC explant tumors. The classifier correctly assigned 83.3% of the cases as chemorefractory or chemosensitive. Furthermore, a significant difference was observed in progression-free survival (PFS) (Kaplan-Meier P value = 0.0166) between patients designated as chemorefractory or chemosensitive by using the baseline CNA classifier. Notably, CTC CNA profiles obtained at relapse from five patients with initially chemosensitive disease did not switch to a chemorefractory CNA profile, which suggests that the genetic basis for initial chemoresistance differs from that underlying acquired chemoresistance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114–119
JournalNature Medicine
Volume23
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2016

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Cancer Research Centre

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