Biomarkers based on detecting prostate cancer-specific transcripts are associated with inferior outcomes, but their validation in a clinical context is lacking.
To determine whether detecting prostate cancer enhanced transcripts in whole blood using an analytically valid assay has prognostic significance relative to circulating tumor cell (CTC) enumeration.
Design, Setting, and Participants
The predictive value for overall survival of the detection in whole blood by reverse transcription real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) of KLK3, KLK2, HOXB13, GRHL2, and FOXA1 was studied in 97 men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC).
2.5ml of blood was collected in PAXgene tubes for total RNA extraction and 7.5 ml for CTC enumeration from patients with progressive mCRPC.
Outcome Measurements and Statistical Analysis
Prostate cancer enriched genes were detected using a sensitive RT-PCR assay in whole blood from patients with mCRPC. Analytical validity of the assay was established in a clinical laboratory environment. The frequency of detecting transcripts was compared to CTC enumeration using CellSearch® in an independent data set and survival associations were explored by concordance probability estimate (CPE).
Results and Limitations
Two or more genes were detected by PCR in 53% (51 of 97, 95% CI 43–63%) of patients, and unfavorable CTC counts (≥5cells) were seen in 46% (45 of 97, 95% CI 36–56%). Importantly, transcripts were detectable in 11 of 52 patients with favorable CTC counts (21%, 95% CI 8–35%). Transcript detection predicted overall survival in a proportional hazards model. Significantly, the predictive accuracy of RT-PCR detection in combination with CTC enumeration had a CPE of 0.752 (SE=0.038), although limited by the number of patients.
This validated RT-PCR assay detecting prostate-specific RNA in whole blood is prognostic for survival, and may assess patient risk complimentary with CellSearch CTC enumeration. Its clinical utility is being prospectively explored.