Experimental Models of Liquid Biopsy in Hepatocellular Carcinoma Reveal Clone-Dependent Release of Circulating Tumor DNA
Ismail Labgaa 1 2 , Johann von Felden 1 3 , Amanda J Craig 1 4 , Sebastiao N Martins-Filho 1 5 6 , Carlos Villacorta-Martin 1 7 , Nicolas Demartines 2 , Olivier Dormond 2 , Delia D'Avola 1 8 9 10 , Augusto Villanueva 1 11
Liquid biopsy, the molecular analysis of tumor components released into the bloodstream, has emerged as a noninvasive and resourceful means to access genomic information from cancers.
Most data derived from translational studies showcase its numerous potential clinical applications. However, data from experimental models are scarce, and little is known about the underlying mechanisms and factors controlling the release of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) and cells (CTCs).
This study aimed to model liquid biopsy in hepatocellular carcinoma xenografts and to study the dynamics of release of ctDNA and CTCs; this included models of intratumoral heterogeneity (ITH) and metastatic disease.
We quantified ctDNA by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) targeting human long interspersed nuclear element group 1; targeted mutation analysis was performed with digital droplet PCR. CTCs were traced by flow cytometry. Results demonstrated the feasibility of detecting ctDNA, including clone-specific mutations, as well as CTCs in blood samples of mice.
In addition, the concentration of ctDNA and presence of tumor-specific mutations reflected tumor progression, and detection of CTCs was associated with metastases. Our ITH model suggested differences in the release of DNA fragments impacted by the cell-clone origin and the treatment.
Conclusion: These data present new models to study liquid biopsy and its underlying mechanisms and highlighted a clone-dependent release of ctDNA into the bloodstream.