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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Jun;1022:76-80.

Role of cell-free plasma DNA as a diagnostic marker for prostate cancer.

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Department of Urology, Guy's Hospital, London, England.


Recent evidence has shown elevated levels of cell-free plasma DNA in cancer patients. The aim of the present study was to quantify and compare the levels of cell-free plasma DNA in patients with prostate cancer, prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN), and benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) to examine if it offered a useful diagnostic test. Blood samples were obtained from 37 patients attending a clinic for prostate biopsies. Samples were taken prior to biopsy, within 1 hour of the biopsy, and then 2 weeks later. DNA was extracted using a QIAamp blood kit (Qiagen) and plasma DNA measured, in genome equivalents/milliliter plasma (GE/mL), using real-time quantitative PCR for the beta-globin gene. Prior to biopsy, plasma DNA concentration in BPH patients was 936 GE/mL (median; range: 633-2074 GE/mL), while cancer and PIN patients had significantly higher levels of DNA at 1734 GE/mL (median; range: 351-3131 GE/mL; P = 0.01) and 1780 GE/mL (median; range: 1514-2732 GE/mL; P = 0.04), respectively. Comparison of plasma DNA concentration before and after biopsy showed that 60 minutes after biopsy values were significantly higher in both BPH (1494 GE/mL; range: 613-2522 GE/mL; P = 0.029) and cancer (2758; range: 1498-5226 GE/mL; P = 0.007) patients. ROC analysis of the data indicated a sensitivity of 85% and a specificity of 73% when DNA concentration of 1000 GE/mL was taken as an indicator of malignancy or PIN. The data suggest that quantification of cell-free plasma DNA may have an important diagnostic role in distinguishing benign and malignant prostate disease.

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