Combined detection of aneuploid circulating tumor-derived endothelial cells and circulating tumor cells may improve diagnosis of early stage non-small-cell lung cancer

Lung Cancer

Lei Y, et al. Clin Transl Med 2020.


BACKGROUND: Many tumor-derived endothelial cells (TECs) are shed into the blood and turn into circulating TECs (CTECs). Rare circulating non-hematologic aneuploid cells contain CTCs and CTECs, which are biologically and functionally different from each other. CD31 is one of the most representative endothelial cell (EC) markers, yet CD31 alone is not sufficient to detect malignant CTECs due to the existence of abundant normal ECs in circulation. Aneuploidy of chromosome 8 (CEP8) is an important criterion for the identification of malignant cells. Combined in situ phenotypic and karyotypic characterization, which includes an examination of both protein expression and aneuploid chromosomes, has demonstrated its unique advantage for both effective distinguishing and comprehensive detection of CTCs and CTECs.

METHODS: A total of 98 subjects were recruited in the current study, including healthy donors and patients with benign disease and early-stage non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). SE-iFISH was performed to quantitatively analyze diverse subtypes of aneuploid CD31+ CTECs and CD31- CTCs classified upon the ploidy of chromosome 8 and tumor marker expression in the specimens collected from the recruited subjects.

RESULTS: CD31- CTCs primarily consist of triploid CTCs with a small cell size (≤5 µm) and large hyperploid CTCs (≥ pentaploid), whereas CD31+ CTECs are mainly comprised of large hyperploid cells. Enumeration of the total numbers of both CTCs and CTECs might help identify malignant nodules with a high sensitivity, whereas quantification of tetraploid CTCs and CTECs specifically exhibited a high specificity for the identification of malignant nodules.

CONCLUSIONS: Combined detection of the specific subtypes of aneuploid CD31+ CTECs and CD31- CTCs may help to effectively identify malignant nodules with a higher sensitivity and specificity in early stage NSCLC patients.