A novel liquid biopsy (NETest) identifies paragangliomas and pheochromocytomas with high accuracy

in Endocrine-Related Cancer
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  • 1 Section of Medical Neuroendocrinology, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
  • | 2 WREN Laboratories, Branford, Connecticut, USA
  • | 3 Gastroenterological and Endoscopic Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to I M Modlin: imodlin@optonline.net
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Pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas (PHEOs/PGLs) represent diagnostically challenging and complex neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). Current biomarker tests for PHEOs/PGLs are technically complex or limited. We assessed the diagnostic utility of a NET-specific 51-marker gene blood assay (NETest) in patients with PHEOs/PGLs (n = 81), including ten pediatric patients, and age-/gender-matched controls (n = 142) using a prospective case:control (1:2) analysis. mRNA was measured (qPCR), and results were scaled from 0 to 100 (upper limit of normal < 20). Receiver operating curve (ROC) and non-parametric (Mann–Whitney) tests were used for analyses (two-tailed). All data are presented as mean ± s.e.m. NETest accuracy for PHEO/PGL diagnosis was 100%. PHEO/PGL scores were 70 ± 3 vs 8.5 ± 1 in controls (P < 0.0001), and ROC analysis was 0.99 ± 0.004 (P < 0.0001). Diagnostic metrics were 94% accurate, 100% sensitive, and 92% specific. Imaging correlation with 68Ga-PET-SSA was 100%. NETest levels in PHEOs (n = 26) were significantly (P < 0.0001) elevated (83 ± 4) vs 66 ± 4 in PGLs (n = 40) and mixed PHEOs/PGLs (n = 5: 37 ± 3). Adrenal-derived tumors (n = 30) exhibited higher scores (76 ± 5) than extra-adrenal-derived tumors (66 ± 4, P < 0.05). Cluster 2 tumors exhibited significantly (P = 0.034) elevated NETest levels (n = 4: 92 ± 2) vs cluster 1 tumors (n = 35: 69 ± 4). Regulatory pathway analysis identified elevated RAS-RAF, metastatic, pluripotential, neural and secretory gene cluster levels (P < 0.05) in PHEOs compared to PGLs. Cluster 2 PPGLs exhibited elevated (P = 0.046) levels of growth factor signaling genes compared to cluster 1. The PHEOs/PGLs in the pediatric cohort (n = 10) were all NETest-positive (81 ± 8) and exhibited a gene expression profile spectrum analogous to adults. Circulating NET transcript analysis identifies PHEOs/PGLs with 100% efficacy and is likely to have clinical utility in the diagnosis and management of PHEO/PGL patients.

 

Society for Endocrinology

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