Activating Telomerase TERT Promoter Mutations and Their Application for the Detection of Bladder Cancer

Bladder Cancer

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Aug 21;21(17):E6034. doi: 10.3390/ijms21176034.


This review summarizes state-of-the-art knowledge in early-generation and novel urine biomarkers targeting the telomerase pathway for the detection and follow-up of bladder cancer (BC). The limitations of the assays detecting telomerase reactivation are discussed and the potential of transcription-activating mutations in the promoter of the TERT gene detected in the urine as promising simple non-invasive BC biomarkers is highlighted. Studies have shown good sensitivity and specificity of the urinary TERT promoter mutations in case-control studies and, more recently, in a pilot prospective cohort study, where the marker was detected up to 10 years prior to clinical diagnosis. However, large prospective cohort studies and intervention studies are required to fully validate their robustness and assess their clinical utility. Furthermore, it may be interesting to evaluate whether the clinical performance of urinary TERT promoter mutations could increase when combined with other simple urinary biomarkers. Finally, different approaches for assessment of TERT promoter mutations in urine samples are presented together with technical challenges, thus highlighting the need of careful technological validation and standardization of laboratory methods prior to translation into clinical practice.