Circulating Tumor Cell Clusters Are Cloaked with Platelets and Correlate with Poor Prognosis in Unresectable Pancreatic Cancer
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- Circulating Tumor Cell Clusters Are Cloaked with Platelets and Correlate with Poor Prognosis in Unresectable Pancreatic Cancer
- Lim, Minji; Park, Suhyun; Jeong, Hyoung-Oh; Park, Sung Hee; Kumar, Sumit; Jang, Aelee; Lee, Semin; Kim, Dong Uk; Cho, Yoon-Kyoung
- Issue Date
- CANCERS, v.13, no.21, pp.5272
- Simple Summary: Despite recent advances, some patients with pancreatic cancer are refractory to treatment and the disease rapidly progresses, resulting in early death. The potential prognostic value of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) has been demonstrated in other cancer types, but the clinical validity in pancreatic cancer remains elusive. Here, we show that CTC clusters, which show mesenchymal characteristics and platelet marker expression, are highly correlated with poor prognosis in patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer.Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are known to be heterogeneous and clustered with tumor-associated cells, such as macrophages, neutrophils, fibroblasts, and platelets. However, their molecular profile and clinical significance remain largely unknown. Thus, we aimed to perform a comprehensive gene expression analysis of single CTCs and CTC clusters in patients with pancreatic cancer and to identify their potential clinical relevance to provide personalized medicine. Epitope-independent, rapid (> 3 mL of whole blood/min) isolation of single CTCs and CTC clusters was achieved from a prospective cohort of 16 patients with unresectable pancreatic cancer using a centrifugal microfluidic device. Forty-eight mRNA expressions of individual CTCs and CTC clusters were analyzed to identify pancreatic CTC phenotype. CTC clusters had a larger proportion of mesenchymal expression than single CTCs (p = 0.0004). The presence of CTC clusters positively correlated with poor prognosis (progression-free survival, p = 0.0159; overall survival, p = 0.0186). Furthermore, we found that most CTCs in these patients (90.7%) were cloaked with platelets and found the presence of a positive correlation between the increase in CTC clusters and rapid disease progression during follow-ups. Efficient CTC cluster isolation and analysis techniques will enhance the understanding of complex tumor metastasis processes and can facilitate personalized disease management.
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