Purposes of the study: We analyzed circulating cell-free DNA in the serum of patients with benign and malignant breast disease and in healthy individuals to determine its diagnostic value.
Basic procedures: Serum samples were obtained from 50 healthy individuals, 33 patients with malignant breast disease and 32 patients with benign breast disease. Circulatory DNA was extracted from serum samples. Cell-free DNA was quantified by real-time quantitative PCR for the glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) gene. Tissue samples from patients with malignant and benign breast lesions were histopathologically examined.
Main findings: The mean levels of circulating cell-free DNA in serum samples were 41,149 genome equivalents (GE)/mL in patients with malignant disease, 30,826 GE/mL in patients with benign disease, and 13,267 GE/mL in healthy individuals. Healthy individuals had significantly lower levels of cell-free DNA than patients with malignant or benign breast disease (p=0.001, p=0.031). No significant difference was observed between malignant and benign disease. There was a correlation between cell-free DNA levels and tumor size but not with other tumor characteristics.
Principal conclusion: Our results suggest that levels of circulating cell-free DNA in serum could have diagnostic value to discriminate between healthy individuals and patients with breast lesions but not between patients with malignant and benign breast lesions.