The clinical significance of CTC enrichment by GPC3-IML and its genetic analysis in hepatocellular carcinoma

J Nanobiotechnology. 2021 Mar 16;19(1):74. doi: 10.1186/s12951-021-00818-3.


Background: This research was to develop a special method for enriching Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) of Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) by Glypican-3 immunoliposomes (GPC3-IML), and to analyze the correlation between the CTCs count and tumor malignancy, as well as to investigate the mutation characteristics of CTC-derived NGS.

Results: In this study characterization of physical parameters was performed with the preparation of GPC3-IML. CTCs in peripheral blood of HCC patients were further separated and identified. Immunofluorescence was used to identify CTCs for further counting. By this means, the correlation between CTCs count and clinicopathological features was analyzed, and the genetic mutation characteristics of NGS derived from CTCs were investigated and compared with that of tissue NGS. Results showed that compared with EpCAM and vimentin, GPC-3 had a stronger CTCs separation ability. There was a correlation between "positive" count of CTCs (≥ 5 PV-CTC per 7.5 ml blood) and BCLC stage (P = 0.055). The result of CTC-NGS was consistent with that of tissue-NGS in 60% cases, revealing that KMT2C was a common highly-frequent mutated gene.

Conclusion: The combination of immunomagnetic separation of CTCs and anti-tumor marker identification technology can be regarded as a new technology of CTCs detection in peripheral blood of patients with HCC. Trial registration EHBHKY2020-k-024. Registered 17 August 2020-Retrospectively registered.

Keywords: Circulating tumor cells (CTCs); GPC3 immunoliposomes (GPC3-IML); Glypican-3 (GPC-3); Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); Next generation sequencing (NGS).