Ductal adenocarcinoma of the pancreas is the fourth most common cancer-associated cause of death in the Western world. The presence of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) can be considered a potential prognostic factor, as these cells represent tumor progression, allowing monitoring of therapeutic efficacy.
The objectives of this study were to explore the morphological, molecular, and phenotypic characteristics of CTCs from the blood of patients with pancreatic carcinoma and to correlate the findings with response to treatment, progression-free survival, overall survival (OS), and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Peripheral blood (10 mL) was analyzed before the beginning of treatment after 60 and 120 days. CTCs were detected by using ISET® and characterized by immunocytochemistry. For microRNAs (miRNAs) analysis, peripheral leukocytes from the same patients and healthy individuals (controls) were collected in parallel at baseline. The expression of miRNAs was evaluated (in pool) using TaqMan® Array Human MicroRNA Cards v2.0.
Only nine patients were included. The proteins, namely, matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP2) and TGFβ-RI, were highly expressed (77.7%) in CTCs at baseline; at the first follow-up, MMP2 was predominant (80%) and, at the second follow-up, MMP2 and vimentin were predominant (50%). Circulating tumor microemboli (CTMs) were found in two patients and both presented DVT. The miR-203a-3p was highly expressed in CTCs. The miR-203a-3p is involved in the stimulation of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and is related to worse OS in pancreatic cancer (TCGA data).
Due to the low number of patients and short follow-up, we did not observe a correlation between CTCs and response to treatment. However, there was a correlation between CTM and DVT and also miR-203a-3p was highly expressed in CTCs, corroborating the findings of EMT proteins. This study opens the perspectives concerning the dynamic change in the pattern of proteins expressed along with treatment and the use of miRNAs as new targets in pancreatic carcinoma.
Developed by Surya MKT