Validation of SFRP1 Promoter Hypermethylation in Plasma as a Prognostic Marker for Survival and Gemcitabine Effectiveness in Patients with Stage IV Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma

Cancers (Basel). 2021 Nov 15;13(22):5717. doi: 10.3390/cancers13225717.


No reliable predictive blood-based biomarkers are available for determining survival from pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDAC). This combined discovery and validation study examines promoter hypermethylation (ph) of secreted frizzled-related protein 1 (SFRP1) in plasma-derived cell-free DNA as an independent prognostic marker for survival and Gemcitabine effectiveness in patients with stage IV PDAC. We conducted methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction analysis of the promoter region of the SFRP1 gene, based on bisulfite treatment. Survival was analyzed with Kaplan-Meier curves, log-rank test, and Cox regression. The discovery cohort included 40 patients, 25 receiving Gem. Gem-treated patients with phSFRP1 had a shorter median overall survival (mOS) (4.4 months) than unmethylated patients (11.6 months). Adjusted Cox-regression yielded a hazard rate (HR) of 3.48 (1.39-8.70). The validation cohort included 58 Gem-treated patients. Patients with phSFRP1 had a shorter mOS (3.2 months) than unmethylated patients (6.3 months). Adjusted Cox regression yielded an HR of 3.53 (1.85-6.74). In both cohorts, phSFRP1 was associated with poorer survival in Gem-treated patients. This may indicate that tumors with phSFRP1 are more aggressive and less sensitive to Gem treatment. This knowledge may facilitate tailored treatment of patients with stage IV PDAC. Further studies are planned to examine phSFRP1 in more intensive chemotherapy regimens.

Keywords: DNA methylation; biomarker; blood-based; cancer; epigenetics; pancreatic cancer; personalized therapy; prognostic; survival.