COLD-PCR Technologies in the Area of Personalized Medicine: Methodology and Applications

Mol Diagn Ther. 2017 Jun;21(3):269-283. doi: 10.1007/s40291-016-0254-8.


Somatic mutations bear great promise for use as biomarkers for personalized medicine, but are often present only in low abundance in biological material and are therefore difficult to detect. Many assays for mutation analysis in cancer-related genes (hotspots) have been developed to improve diagnosis, prognosis, prediction of drug resistance, and monitoring of the response to treatment. Two major approaches have been developed: mutation-specific amplification methods and methods that enrich and detect mutations without prior knowledge on the exact location and identity of the mutation. CO-amplification at Lower Denaturation temperature Polymerase Chain Reaction (COLD-PCR) methods such as full-, fast-, ice- (improved and complete enrichment), enhanced-ice, and temperature-tolerant COLD-PCR make use of a critical temperature in the polymerase chain reaction to selectively denature wild-type-mutant heteroduplexes, allowing the enrichment of rare mutations. Mutations can subsequently be identified using a variety of laboratory technologies such as high-resolution melting, digital polymerase chain reaction, pyrosequencing, Sanger sequencing, or next-generation sequencing. COLD-PCR methods are sensitive, specific, and accurate if appropriately optimized and have a short time to results. A large variety of clinical samples (tumor DNA, circulating cell-free DNA, circulating cell-free fetal DNA, and circulating tumor cells) have been studied using COLD-PCR in many different applications including the detection of genetic changes in cancer and infectious diseases, non-invasive prenatal diagnosis, detection of microorganisms, or DNA methylation analysis. In this review, we describe in detail the different COLD-PCR approaches, highlighting their specificities, advantages, and inconveniences and demonstrating their use in different fields of biological and biomedical research.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA Methylation
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Female
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / methods
  • Humans
  • Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Mutation
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Precision Medicine / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods