A Circulating Panel of Circular RNA Biomarkers for the Noninvasive and Early Detection of Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma
Caiming Xu, Eunsung Jun, Yoshinaga Okugawa, Yuji Toiyama, Erkut Borazanci, John Bolton, Akinobu Taketomi, Song Cheol Kim, Dong Shang, Daniel Von Hoff, Guixin Zhang, Ajay Goel
Gastroenterology . 2023 Oct 14:S0016-5085(23)05131-4. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2023.09.050. Online ahead of print.
Background & aims: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most fatal malignancies. Delayed manifestation of symptoms and lack of specific diagnostic markers lead patients being diagnosed with PDAC at advanced stages. This study aimed to develop a circular RNA (circRNA)-based biomarker panel to facilitate noninvasive and early detection of PDAC.
Methods: A systematic genome-wide discovery of circRNAs overexpressed in patients with PDAC was conducted. Subsequently, validation of the candidate markers in the primary tumors from patients with PDAC was performed, followed by their translation into a plasma-based liquid biopsy assay by analyzing 2 independent clinical cohorts of patients with PDAC and nondisease controls. The performance of the circRNA panel was assessed in conjunction with the plasma levels of cancer antigen 19-9 for the early detection of PDAC.
Results: Initially, a panel of 10 circRNA candidates was identified during the discovery phase. Subsequently, the panel was reduced to 5 circRNAs in the liquid biopsy-based assay, which robustly identified patients with PDAC and distinguished between early-stage (stage I/II) and late-stage (stage III/IV) disease. The areas under the curve of this diagnostic panel for the detection of early-stage PDAC were 0.83 and 0.81 in the training and validation cohorts, respectively. Moreover, when this panel was combined with cancer antigen 19-9 levels, the diagnostic performance for identifying patients with PDAC improved remarkably (area under the curve, 0.94) for patients in the validation cohort. Furthermore, the circRNA panel could also efficiently identify patients with PDAC (area under the curve, 0.85) who were otherwise deemed clinically cancer antigen 19-9-negative (<37 U/mL).
Conclusions: A circRNA-based biomarker panel with a robust noninvasive diagnostic potential for identifying patients with early-stage PDAC was developed.