[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Circulating cell-free DNA (ccfDNA) has been confirmed as a useful biomarker in cancer and pre-natal clinical practice. One of the main critical points in using ccfDNA is a lack of standardisation for sample processing methods, storage conditions, procedures for extraction, and quantification that can affect ccfDNA quality and quantity. We report the results obtained from the SPIDIA-DNAplas, one of the EU SPIDIA (Standardisation and improvement of generic pre-analytical tools and procedures for in vitro diagnostics) subprojects based on the implementation of an External Quality Assessment scheme for the evaluation of the influence of the pre-analytical phase on ccfDNA. This is the first reported quality control scheme targeting ccfDNA for pre-analytical phase studies.
Fifty-six laboratories throughout Europe were recruited. The participating laboratories received the same plasma sample and extracted ccfDNA by using their own procedures, at defined plasma storage conditions, and sent the isolated ccfDNA to the SPIDIA facility for analyses. Laboratory performance was evaluated by using specific quality parameters such as ccfDNA integrity (by multiplex PCR) and yield (by qPCR).
The analysis of the ccfDNA extracted by the laboratories showed that most of them (53 of 56) were able to recover ccfDNA but only 12.5% recovered non-fragmented ccfDNA. Extraction methods specifically designed for ccfDNA preserved the integrity profile.
The evidence-based results of the SPIDIA-DNAplas EQA have been proposed as a basis for the development of a Technical Specification by the European Committee for standardisation (CEN).
Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine 04/2015; DOI:10.1515/cclm-2014-1161 · 2.96 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs (miRNAs), small noncoding RNAs, are involved in tumorigenesis and in the development of various cancers. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) is the most commonly used tool to investigate miRNA expression, and qPCR low-density arrays are increasingly being used as an experimental technique for both the identification of potentially relevant miRNAs and their subsequent validation. Due to the reduced number of microRNAs to be validated, this phase is generally performed on ad hoc customized cards for which a technical robustness is assumed similar to that of the high-throughput cards used during the identification phase.
With the aim of investigating the degree of reproducibility between the 2 types of cards, we analyzed plasma-circulating miRNAs evaluated in 60 subjects enrolled in a colorectal cancer screening program.
Our results showed a reproducibility between the 2 methods that was not fully satisfactory, with a concordance correlation coefficient equal to 0.69 (95% confidence interval, 0.12-0.92).
This report highlights the need to add a technical validation step to the high-throughput-based miRNA identification workflow, after their discovery and before the validation step in an independent series.
The International journal of biological markers 02/2015; 30(2). DOI:10.5301/jbm.5000135 · 1.36 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
Human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive and HPV-negative oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas (OSCCs) are two distinct entities. We defined the molecular profiles of druggable receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) in both groups.Materials and methodsE5 expression and RTK alterations were studied in 17 HPV-positive and 59 HPV-negative formalin-fixed OSCCs. RTK activation was explored in further 12 frozen OSCCs.ResultsThe HPV-positive OSCCs showed E5 expression and 33.3% expressed low level of HER2. The HPV-negative OSCCs showed HER2 expression (31.2%), increased HER2 gene copy number (46.51%, P = 0.045) and HER2 activation through HER2/EGFR heterodimerisation; HER3 (51.06%, P = 0.008) and neuregulin (65.63%; P = 0.03) expression, HER3 activation and HER3/EGFR heterodimerisation; and increased IGF-1R copy number (40.50%, P = 0.021), high IGF-1R cDNA values (P = 0.002), IGF-1R activation and expression of IGF1/2 and amphiregulin. PI3KCA mutations/expression/increased gene copy number and PTEN mutations were found in both groups, whereas PTEN gene loss was only observed in the HPV-positive cases.Conclusion
Human papillomavirus-positive and HPV-negative OSCC showed different RTK profiles. In HPV-positive cases, it would be interesting to study the expression of E5, which may modulate EGFR turnover and activate VEGF and PDGFRβ. In HPV-negative cases, HER3 may be a promising druggable biomarker that deserves further investigation. PI3KCA and PTEN alterations encourage the promising clinical evaluation of PI3K/mTOR inhibitor activity in OSCC, particularly in HPV-positive/PI3KCA-mutated OSCCs because they may be driven by PI3KCA mutation alone.
Journal of Oral Pathology and Medicine 12/2014; DOI:10.1111/jop.12301 · 1.87 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: One purpose of the EC funded project, SPIDIA, is to develop evidence-based quality guidelines for the pre-analytical handling of blood samples for RNA molecular testing. To this end, two pan-European External Quality Assessments (EQAs) were implemented. Here we report the results of the second SPIDIA-RNA EQA. This second study included modifications in the protocol related to the blood collection process, the shipping conditions and pre-analytical specimen handling for participants. Participating laboratories received two identical proficiency blood specimens collected in tubes with or without an RNA stabilizer. For pre-defined specimen storage times and temperatures, laboratories were asked to perform RNA extraction from whole blood according to their usual procedure and to return extracted RNA to the SPIDIA facility for further analysis. These RNA samples were evaluated for purity, yield, integrity, stability, presence of interfering substances, and gene expression levels for the validated markers of RNA stability: FOS, IL1B, IL8, GAPDH, FOSB and TNFRSF10c. Analysis of the gene expression results of FOS, IL8, FOSB, and TNFRSF10c, however, indicated that the levels of these transcripts were significantly affected by blood collection tube type and storage temperature. These results demonstrated that only blood collection tubes containing a cellular RNA stabilizer allowed reliable gene expression analysis within 48 h from blood collection for all the genes investigated. The results of these two EQAs have been proposed for use in the development of a Technical Specification by the European Committee for Standardization.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is an increasing need for proper quality control tools in the pre-analytical phase of the molecular diagnostic workflow. The aim of the present study was to identify biomarkers for monitoring pre-analytical mRNA quality variations in two different types of blood collection tubes, K2EDTA (EDTA) tubes and PAXgene Blood RNA Tubes (PAXgene tubes). These tubes are extensively used both in the diagnostic setting as well as for research biobank samples. Blood specimens collected in the two different blood collection tubes were stored for varying times at different temperatures, and microarray analysis was performed on resultant extracted RNA. A large set of potential mRNA quality biomarkers for monitoring post-phlebotomy gene expression changes and mRNA degradation in blood was identified. qPCR assays for the potential biomarkers and a set of relevant reference genes were generated and used to pre-validate a sub-set of the selected biomarkers. The assay precision of the potential qPCR based biomarkers was determined, and a final validation of the selected quality biomarkers using the developed qPCR assays and blood samples from 60 healthy additional subjects was performed. In total, four mRNA quality biomarkers (USP32, LMNA, FOSB, TNRFSF10C) were successfully validated. We suggest here the use of these blood mRNA quality biomarkers for validating an experimental pre-analytical workflow. These biomarkers were further evaluated in the 2nd ring trial of the SPIDIA-RNA Program which demonstrated that these biomarkers can be used as quality control tools for mRNA analyses from blood samples.
PLoS ONE 11/2014; 9(11):e111644. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0111644 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of our study was to evaluate the quality of histo- and cytomorphological features of PAXgene-fixed specimens and their suitability for histomorphological classification in comparison to standard formalin fixation. Fifteen colon cancer tissues were collected, divided into two mirrored samples and either formalin fixed (FFPE) or PAXgene fixed (PFPE) before paraffin embedding. HE- and PAS-stained sections were scanned and evaluated in a blinded, randomised ring trial by 20 pathologists from Europe and the USA using virtual microscopy. The pathologists evaluated histological grading, histological subtype, presence of adenoma, presence of lymphovascular invasion, quality of histomorphology and quality of nuclear features. Statistical analysis revealed that the reproducibility with regard to grading between both fixation methods was rather satisfactory (weighted kappa statistic (k
w) = 0.73 (95 % confidence interval (CI), 0.41–0.94)), with a higher agreement between the reference evaluation and the PFPE samples (k
w = 0.86 (95 % CI, 0.67–1.00)). Independent from preservation method, inter-observer reproducibility was not completely satisfactory (k
w = 0.60). Histomorphological quality parameters were scored equal or better for PFPE than for FFPE samples. For example, overall quality and nuclear features, especially the detection of mitosis, were judged significantly better for PFPE cases. By contrast, significant retraction artefacts were observed more frequently in PFPE samples. In conclusion, our findings suggest that the PAXgene Tissue System leads to excellent preservation of histomorphology and nuclear features of colon cancer tissue and allows routine morphological diagnosis.
Archiv für Pathologische Anatomie und Physiologie und für Klinische Medicin 08/2014; 465(5). DOI:10.1007/s00428-014-1624-4 · 2.56 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Target-specific agents used in melanoma are not curative, and chemokines are being implicated in drug-resistance to target-specific agents. Thus, the use of conventional agents in rationale combinations may result in optimization of therapy. Because histone deacetylases participate in tumor development and progression, the combination of the pan-inhibitor SAHA and temozolomide might provide a therapeutic advantage. Here, we show synergism between the two drugs in mutant BRAF cell lines, in association with decreased phosphorylation of cell survival proteins (e.g., C-Jun-N-terminal-kinase, JNK). In the spontaneous ret transgenic mouse melanoma model, combination therapy produced a significant disease onset delay and down-regulation of Chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2), JNK, and of Myeloid-derived suppressor cell recruitment. Co-incubation with a CCL2-blocking-antibody enhanced in vitro cell sensitivity to temozolomide. Conversely, recombinant CCL2 activated JNK in human tumor melanoma cells. In keeping with these results, the combination of a JNK-inhibitor with temozolomide was synergistic. By showing that down-regulation of CCL2-driven signals by SAHA and temozolomide via JNK contributes to reduce melanoma growth, we provide a rationale for the therapeutic advantage of the drug combination. This combination strategy may be effective because of interference both with tumor cell and tumor microenvironment.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this note we propose an R function named NqA (Normalization qPCR Array), suitable for the identification of a set of microRNAs (miRNAs) to be used for data normalization in view of subsequent validation studies with qPCR data. NqA is available through the web-site of the Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori of Milan at: http://www.istitutotumori.mi.it/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=812 with a dedicated user-guide. We applied our function on a qPCR dataset downloaded from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database. Results show that NqA provides a functional subset of reference miRNAs and a set of promising significantly modulated miRNAs for subsequent validations studies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aims and background. The quantification and molecular characterization of circulating free DNA (cfDNA) have attracted much interest as new and promising, noninvasive means of detecting and monitoring the presence of surgical resectable colorectal cancer (CRC). Instead, the role of cfDNA in the early detection of malignant and premalignant colorectal lesions is still unclear. The aim of this study was to evaluate the predictive power of the quantification and KRAS status of cfDNA in detecting early colorectal lesions in plasma from healthy high-risk subjects. Methods. The study population consisted of 170 consecutive healthy high-risk subjects aged >50 years who participated in the screening program promoted by the Local Health Service (ASL-Milano) for early CRC detection and who underwent endoscopic examination after being found positive at fecal occult blood test (FOBT). Thirty-four participants had malignant lesions consisting of 12 adenocarcinomas (at an early stage in half of the cases) and 22 instances of high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia (HGIN) in adenomas; 73 participants had premalignant lesions (adenomas and hyperplasia), and 63 participants had no lesions. Plasma cfDNA was quantified by quantitative real-time PCR and analyzed for KRAS mutations by a mutant-enriched PCR. KRAS status was assessed also in matched adenocarcinoma and HGIN tissues. The distribution of cfDNA concentrations among FOBT-positive subjects with diagnosed lesion (cases) was compared with that of FOBT-positive subjects without lesions (controls) and its predictive capability (AUC) was assessed. Results. The predictive capability of cfDNA levels was satisfactory in predicting adenocarcinomas (AUC 0.709; 95% CI, 0.508-0.909) but not HGIN and premalignant lesions. The rate of KRAS mutations in plasma was low (5/170 = 3%) compared with the rate observed in the matched adenocarcinoma and HGIN tissues (45%). Conclusions. The use of cfDNA quantification to predict adenocarcinoma at an early stage in high-risk (aged >50 years and FOBT positive) subjects seems to be promising but needs more sensitive methods to improve cfDNA detection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Purpose:Monoallelic germ-line deleterious mutations of PALB2 (partner and localizer of BRCA2) are associated with breast cancer risk and have been found in several populations, with carrier frequencies of ~1-2%. Initially, these mutations were considered to have moderate penetrance, but accumulating evidence now indicates that they are associated with much higher risk.Methods:In this study, we sequenced the PALB2 coding regions unlinked to BRCA (breast cancer) genes in 575 probands from Italian breast cancer families recruited in Milan.Results:We found 12 carriers (2.1%) of deleterious mutations, and none of the mutations was found in 784 controls collected in Milan. One of these mutations, the c.1027C>T (p.Gln343X), was found to be recurrent in the province of Bergamo in northern Italy, being detected in 6/113 (5.3%) familial breast cancer cases and 2/477 (0.4%) controls recruited in this area (Fisher's exact test: P < 0.01).Conclusions:Our data provide confirmatory findings that, in the Italian population also, deleterious mutations of PALB2 are relatively frequent predisposing factors for breast cancer and may be associated with high risk of the disease.Genet Med advance online publication 20 February 2014Genetics in Medicine (2014); doi:10.1038/gim.2014.13.
Genetics in medicine: official journal of the American College of Medical Genetics 02/2014; 16(9). DOI:10.1038/gim.2014.13 · 6.44 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The common -652 6N del variant in the CASP8 promoter (rs3834129) has been described as a putative low-penetrance risk factor for different cancer types. In particular, some studies suggested that the deleted allele (del) was inversely associated with CRC risk while other analyses failed to confirm this. Hence, to better understand the role of this variant in the risk of developing CRC, we performed a multi-centric case-control study. In the study, the variant -652 6N del was genotyped in a total of 6,733 CRC cases and 7,576 controls recruited by six different centers located in Spain, Italy, USA, England, Czech Republic and the Netherlands collaborating to the international consortium COGENT (COlorectal cancer GENeTics). Our analysis indicated that rs3834129 was not associated with CRC risk in the full data set. However, the del allele was under-represented in one set of cases with a family history of CRC (per allele model OR = 0.79, 95% CI = 0.69-0.90) suggesting this allele might be a protective factor versus familial CRC. Since this multi-centric case-control study was performed on a very large sample size, it provided robust clarification of the effect of rs3834129 on the risk of developing CRC in Caucasians.
PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(1):e85538. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0085538 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:Plasma circulating tumour-specific microRNAs (miRNAs) are promising biomarkers of tumour presence and recurrence, especially for diseases whose best chance of successful treatment requires early diagnosis and timely surgery of an already malignant but not yet invasive tumour, such as colorectal cancer (CRC).Methods:Expression levels of miRNAs previously found to be differently expressed in tumour vs normal colon tissues were investigated by quantitative real-time PCR in plasma from CRC patients and from healthy donors and confirmed in independent case control series. The validated miRNAs were also measured after surgery. Analyses were repeated on the subsets of haemolysis-free samples.Results:We identified four miRNAs differently expressed between the compared groups, two (miR-21 and miR-378) of which were validated. miR-378 expression decreased in non-relapsed patients 4-6 months after surgery and miR-378 ability to discriminate CRC patients from healthy individuals was not influenced by haemolysis levels of plasma samples.Conclusion:The miRNA analysis on plasma samples represents a useful non-invasive tool to assess CRC presence as well as tumour-free status at follow-up. Plasma levels of miR-378 could be used to discriminate CRC patients from healthy individuals, irrespective of the level of haemoglobin of plasma samples.British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, 14 January 2014; doi:10.1038/bjc.2013.819 www.bjcancer.com.
British Journal of Cancer 01/2014; 110(4). DOI:10.1038/bjc.2013.819 · 4.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this note, we propose an R function named NqA (Normalization qPCR Array, where qPCR is quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction) suitable for the identification of a set of microRNAs (miRNAs) to be used for data normalization in view of subsequent validation studies with qPCR data. NqA is available through the website of the Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori of Milan (http://www.istitutotumori.mi.it/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=812) with a dedicated user’s guide. We applied our function on a qPCR dataset downloaded from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database. Results show that NqA provides a functional subset of reference miRNAs and a set of promising significantly modulated miRNAs for subsequent validation studies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Currently used CA15-3 and CEA have found their clinical application particularly in the follow-up of patients with advanced disease. Novel biomarkers are urgent, especially for improving early diagnosis as well as for discriminating between benign and malignant disease.
In the present study, we used a proteomic approach based on surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization-time of flight-mass spectrometry screening with the aim of identifying differentially expressed 2-30 kDa proteins in plasma of patients with malignant (65 cases) and benign (88 cases) breast lesions with respect to 121 healthy controls.
We found that the most promising SELDI peaks were those corresponding to hepcidin-25 and ferritin light chain. We evaluated the capability of these peaks in predicting malignant and benign breast lesions using the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC). The results showed a good capacity to predict malignant breast lesions for hepcidin-25 [AUC: 0.82; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.75-0.90] and ferritin light chain (AUC: 0.86; 95% CI 0.79-0.92). Conversely, a weak and satisfactory capability to predict benign breast lesion was observed for hepcidin-25 (AUC: 0.63; 95% CI 0.41-0.85) and ferritin light chain (AUC: 0.73; 95% CI 0.49-0.97). A significant association between HER2 status and hepcidin-25 was observed and the distribution of transferrin and ferritin were found significantly different in patients with breast cancer when compared with that of controls.
This study provides evidence that hepcidin and ferritin light chain level in plasma may be of clinical usefulness to predict malignant and benign disease with respect to healthy controls.
Annals of Oncology 12/2013; 25(2). DOI:10.1093/annonc/mdt490 · 6.58 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway alterations are frequent in patients with infiltrating breast cancer (IBC). Their clinical and pathological relevance has been insufficiently documented. We evaluated PI3KCA for mutations and the expression of PTEN, AKT, mTOR and p70S6K by immunohistochemistry in 246 IBC patients treated with hormone therapy (median follow-up, 97 months). A PI3KCA mutation was observed in 50 out of 229 informative cases (21.8 %), PTEN loss in 107 out of 210 (51 %), moderate/high level of expression of AKT in 133 out of 188 (71 %), moderate/high level of expression of mTOR in 173 out of 218 (79 %) and moderate/high level of expression of p70S6K in 111 out of 192 cases (58 %). PI3KCA mutation was associated with the absence of Her2/neu amplification/overexpression and a low level of MIB1/Ki-67 labelling. The expression of p70S6K was associated with a high level of mTOR immunoreactivity, and high PTEN expression was associated with high AKT expression level. Univariate analysis showed that PI3KCA mutation status was not associated with clinical outcome in the series as a whole or in the node-negative subgroup. However, in the node-positive subgroup, exon 9 PI3KCA mutation was associated with unfavourable overall survival (OS), although its impact on the final model in multivariate analysis seemed to be limited. Of the other markers, only high p70S6K expression was associated with a significantly prolonged OS. PI3KCA mutation status is of limited prognostic relevance in oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancer patients treated with hormone therapy.
Archiv für Pathologische Anatomie und Physiologie und für Klinische Medicin 11/2013; 464(1). DOI:10.1007/s00428-013-1500-7 · 2.56 Impact Factor