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Oncotarget. 2017 Jul 25;8(30):49773-49782. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.17937.

The detection and significance of EGFR and BRAF in cell-free DNA of peripheral blood in NSCLC.

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The Comprehensive Cancer Center of Drum Tower Hospital, Nanjing University Medical School and Clinical Cancer Institute of Nanjing University, Nanjing 210008, PR China.
Nanjing Xianlin Drum Tower Hospital, Nanjing 210046, PR China.



Although driver mutation status is crucial to targeted therapy decision-making in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), due to unavailable or inadequate biopsies, there are still many patients with unknown mutation status. A promising way to solve this problem is liquid biopsy, such as cell-free DNA (cfDNA) in peripheral blood. Additionally, due to the little amount of cfDNA, detecting methods with high sensitivity, specificity and economy are required in clinical practice. Here, we explored the feasibility of Competitive Allele-Specific TaqMan® PCR (CastPCR) detecting driver mutations in cfDNA from plasma in lung adenocarcinoma patients.


Sensitivity, specificity, concordance, PPV and NPV of CastPCR detecting EGFR mutations in cfDNA was 56.4% (31/55), 94.2% (49/52), 74.8% (80/107), 91.2% (31/34) and 67.1% (49/73), respectively. Notably, specificity and PPV for p.T790M both reached 100.0%. For BRAF detection, it was 28.6% (2/7), 93.0% (93/100), 88.8% (95/107), 22.2% (2/9) and 94.9% (93/98), respectively.


Plasma specimens of 107 lung adenocarcinoma patients and their matched tumor formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) samples were analyzed. CastPCR was used to detect EGFR (c.2235_2249del, c.2236_2250del, c.2369C>T p.T790M, c.2573T>G p.L858R) and BRAF (c.1406G>C p.G469A, c.1799T>A p.V600E, c.1781A>G p.D594G) mutations. Mutation results of tumor tissue was set as gold standard, and the sensitivity, specificity, concordance, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) were calculated for each mutation.


For patients whose tumor tissue is unavailable or inadequate, EGFR mutation detection in cfDNA with CastPCR could be first choice. Mutation positive results may provide reference for further clinical medication. While negative results indicate that detection in tissue should be considered as the following step. In this way, tumor tissue could be economized to the maximum extent and the risk of repeated percutaneous transthoracic lung biopsy could also be lowered to the maximum extent. For BRAF detection in cfDNA, CastPCR is a specific method while the sensitivity needs further exploration.


CastPCR; EGFR; NSCLC; cfDNA; driver mutation

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