Objective: The study aims at identifying novel markers for circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in patients with epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), and at evaluating their impact on outcome.
Methods: Microarray analysis comparing matched EOC tissues and peripheral blood leucocytes (N=35) was performed to identify novel CTC markers. Gene expression of these novel markers and of EpCAM was analyzed using RT-qPCR in blood samples taken from healthy females (N=39) and from EOC patients (N=216) before primary treatment and six months after adjuvant chemotherapy. All samples were enriched by density gradient centrifugation. CTC positivity was defined by over-expression of at least one gene as compared to the healthy control group.
Results: CTC were detected in 24.5% of the baseline and 20.4% of the follow-up samples, of which two thirds were identified by overexpression of the cyclophilin C gene (PPIC), and just a few by EpCAM overexpression. The presence of CTCs at baseline correlated with the presence of ascites, sub-optimal debulking, and elevated CA-125 and HE-4 levels, whereas CTC during follow-up occurred more often in older and platinum resistant patients. PPIC positive CTCs during follow-up were significantly more often detected in the platinum resistant than in the platinum sensitive patient group, and indicated poor outcome independent from classical prognostic parameters.
Conclusions: Molecular characterization of CTC is superior to a mere CTC enumeration or even be the rationale for CTC diagnostics at all. Ultimately CTC diagnostics may lead to more personalized treatment of EOC, especially in the recurrent situation.
Copyright © 2012. Published by Elsevier Inc.