A Case Report on Longitudinal Collection of Tumour Biopsies for Gene Expression-Based Tumour Microenvironment Analysis from Pancreatic Cancer Patients Treated with Endoscopic Ultrasound Guided Radiofrequency Ablation.
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BACKGROUND: Most patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) are metastatic at presentation with dismal prognosis warranting improved systemic therapy options. Longitudinal sampling for the assessment of treatment response poses a challenge for validating novel therapies. In this case study, we evaluate the feasibility of collecting endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)-guided longitudinal fine-needle aspiration biopsies (FNABs) from two PDAC patients and conduct gene expression studies associated with tumour microenvironment changes associated with radiofrequency ablation (RFA). METHODS: EUS-guided serial/longitudinal FNABs of tumour were collected before and after treatment from two stage III inoperable gemcitabine-treated PDAC patients treated with targeted RFA three times. Biopsies were analysed using a custom NanoString panel (144 genes) consisting of cancer and cancer-associated fibroblast (CAFs) subtypes and immune changes. CAF culture was established from one FNAB and characterised by immunofluorescence and immunoblotting. RESULTS: Two-course RFA led to the upregulation of the CD1E gene (involved in antigen presentation) in both patients 1 and 2 (4.5 and 3.9-fold changes) compared to baseline. Patient 1 showed increased T cell genes (CD4-8.7-fold change, CD8-35.7-fold change), cytolytic function (6.4-fold change) and inflammatory response (8-fold change). A greater than 2-fold upregulation of immune checkpoint genes was observed post-second RFA in both patients. Further, two-course RFA led to increased PDGFRα (4.5-fold change) and CAF subtypes B and C genes in patient 1 and subtypes A, B and D genes in patient 2. Patient 2-derived CAFs post-first RFA showed expression of PDGFRα, POSTN and MYH11 proteins. Finally, RFA led to the downregulation of classical PDAC subtype-specific genes in both patients. CONCLUSIONS: This case study suggests longitudinal EUS-FNAB as a potential resource to study tumour and microenvironmental changes associated with RFA treatment. A large sample size is required in the future to assess the efficacy and safety of the treatment and perform comprehensive statistical analysis of EUS-RFA-based molecular changes in PDAC.
fine-needle aspiration biopsy
immune checkpoint genes
pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor alpha
Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal
Systems - Precision Med
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Current Oncology, 2022, 29 (10), pp. 6754 - 6763