The epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotype-based subsets of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) might be predictors of tumor progression. We evaluated the clinical properties of different phenotypic CTCs in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Secondly, we explored the association between different phenotypic CTCs and the uptake of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) by the primary tumor on a positron emission tomographic (PET) scan.
Venous blood samples from 34 pathologically confirmed Stage IIB-IVB NSCLC patients were collected prospectively. CTCs were immunoassayed using a SE-i·FISH®CTC kit. We identified CTCs into cytokeratin positive (CK+) and cytokeratin negative (CK−) phenotypes. CTC classifications were correlated with the maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax) measured by 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT). Overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) curves were produced using the Kaplan–Meier method.
CTCs were detected in 91.2% of NSCLC patients. CTC counting was associated with TNM stage (P = 0.014) and distant metastasis (P = 0.007). The number of CK−CTCs was also positively associated with TNM stage (P = 0.022) and distant metastasis (P = 0.007). Both total CTC counting and CK−CTC counting did not show association with SUVmax value (P = 0.959, P = 0.903). Kaplan–Meier survival analysis demonstrated that patients with ≥ 7 CTCs had shorter OS (P = 0.003) and PFS (P = 0.001) relative to patients with < 7 CTCs). Notably, the number of CK−CTCs can act as independent risk factors for PFS (P = 0.044) and OS (P = 0.043) in NSCLC patients. However, SUVmax value was not associated with OS (P = 0.895) and PFS (P = 0.686).
The CTC subpopulations could be useful evidence for testing metastasis and prognosis in NSCLC patients. The SUVmax value of the primary tumor was not related to prognosis in patients with NSCLC.
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This study was supported by grants from the Natural Science Fund of Yangzhou City (Nos. YZ2017114, YZ2017121).
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The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
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Bian, J., Yan, K., Liu, N. et al. Correlations between circulating tumor cell phenotyping and 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography uptake in non-small cell lung cancer. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol 146, 2621–2630 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00432-020-03244-4
- Circulating tumor cells
- Non-small cell lung cancer
- Suvmax value
- Cytokeratin negative