MALBAC-based chromosomal imbalance analysis: a novel technique enabling effective non-invasive diagnosis and monitoring of bladder cancer

BMC Cancer. 2018 Jun 15;18(1):659. doi: 10.1186/s12885-018-4571-7.


Background: The gold standard for bladder cancer detection is cystoscopy, which is an invasive procedure that causes discomfort in patients. The currently available non-invasive approaches either show limited sensitivity in low-grade tumours or possess unsatisfying specificity. The aim of the present study is to develop a new non-invasive strategy based on chromosomal imbalance levels to detect bladder cancer effectively.

Methods: We enrolled 74 patients diagnosed with bladder cancer (BC), 51 healthy participants and 27 patients who were diagnosed with non-malignant urinary disease (UD). The Chromosomal Imbalance Analysis (CIA) was conducted in the tumours and urine of participants via the multiple annealing and looping-based amplification cycles-next-generation sequencing (MALBAC-NGS) strategy. The threshold of the CIA was determined with the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve. The comparison of the CIA with voided urine cytology was also performed in a subgroup of 55 BC patients. The consistency and discrepancy of the different assays were studied with the Kappa analysis and the McNemar test, respectively. The performance of the urinary CIA was also validated in an additional group of 120 BC patients, 15 UD and 45 healthy participants.

Results: Good concordance (87.0%) in the assessments of patient tumour tissues and urine was observed. The urine-based evaluation also demonstrated a good performance (accuracy = 89.0%, sensitivity = 83.1%, specificity = 94.5%, NPV = 85.4% and PPV = 93.7%; AUC = 0.917, 95%CI =0.868-0.966, P < 0.001) in the training group, particularly in the patients with CIA-positive tumours (accuracy = 92.7%, sensitivity = 89.8%). The sensitivity and specificity in the validation group were 89.2 and 90.0%, respectively. Even in Ta/T1 and low-grade tumour patients, the sensitivity was 85-90%. The CIA also exhibited a significantly improved sensitivity compared to voided urine cytology.

Conclusions: This is the first study employing the concept of whole genome imbalance combined with the MALBAC technique to detect bladder cancer in urine. MALBAC-CIA yielded significant diagnostic power, even in early-stage/low-grade tumour patients, and it may be used as a non-invasive approach for diagnosis and recurrence surveillance in bladder cancer prior to the use of cystoscopy, which would largely reduce the burden on patients.

Keywords: Bladder Cancer; CNV; Chromosomal imbalance analysis; MALBAC; NGS.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Area Under Curve
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / urine*
  • Chromosomal Instability
  • Female
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • ROC Curve
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / genetics
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / urine


  • Biomarkers, Tumor