Circulating tumor DNA dynamically predicts response and/or relapse in patients with hematological malignancies
A growing body of evidence suggests that tumor-derived fragmentary DNA, known as circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), has the potential to serve as a non-invasive biomarker for disease monitoring. However, in the setting of hematological malignancy, few published studies support the utility of ctDNA. We retrospectively investigated ctDNA levels of 17 patients with various hematological malignancies who had achieved remission after first-line therapy. We identified somatic driver mutations by next-generation sequencing, and designed droplet digital PCR assays for each mutation to measure ctDNA. Variant allele frequencies of ctDNA changed in association with clinical response in all patients. Eight patients clinically relapsed after a median of 297 days post-first-line therapy (termed, “relapsed group”); the remaining nine patients remained disease-free for a median of 332 days (termed, “remission group”). Among patients in the relapsed group, ctDNA levels increased more than twofold at paired serial time points. In marked contrast, ctDNA levels of all patients in the remission group remained undetectable or stable during clinical remission. Notably, ctDNA-based molecular relapse demonstrated a median 30-day lead time over clinical relapse. In summary, ctDNA monitoring may help identify hematologic cancer patients at risk for relapse in advance of established clinical parameters.
KeywordsCirculating tumor DNA Liquid biopsy Mutation tracking MRD Hematological malignancy
We are grateful to all patients for their cooperation and participation in the study.
SN, KY, and AT, wrote the manuscript. SN, NY, MO, TT, AK, and MI performed experiments. SN and KY analyzed the data with ES, RK, RY, SI, and SM providing assistance in informatics analysis. TIN and YW provided vital samples. KY and AT designed and supervised the study.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
Arinobu Tojo has received research funding from Chugai Pharma. All other authors have no disclosures.
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