Circulating endothelial cells for evaluation of tumor response in non-small cell lung cancer patients receiving first-line chemotherapy

Fadi Najjar, Ghassan Al-Massarani, Israa Banat, Moosheer Alammar
International Journal of Biological Markers 2015 November 11, 30 (4): e374-81

BACKGROUND: Circulating endothelial cells (CECs) reflect the neovascularization in the tumor mass. We therefore investigated the potential role of CEC kinetics after first-line chemotherapy in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.

METHODS: Peripheral blood samples were obtained from 45 healthy subjects and 51 naïve patients with advanced NSCLC. Quantification of CD146+ CECs was performed using immunomagnetic separation (IMS).

RESULTS: Pretreatment and posttreatment CEC levels in NSCLC patients were significantly higher than in healthy subjects (p<0.0001). An objective response was achieved after chemotherapy with partial response (PR) or stable disease (SD) in 26 patients, whereas the remaining 25 patients had progressive disease (PD). Baseline CEC levels were significantly higher in PR/SD patients than in PD patients (p = 0.039). After chemotherapy, CEC count significantly decreased in PR/SD patients (p = 0.014) and increased in patients with PD (p = 0.019). Moreover, there was a significant difference in the percentage change of CEC counts between the 2 groups (p = 0.0016). No significant difference in the median progression-free survival and overall survival (OS) was observed between patients with high baseline CEC counts and those with low baseline CEC levels. However, patients with high percentage change in CEC count had longer OS than those with low percentage change after chemotherapy (p = 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Changes in CEC counts after chemotherapy reflect tumor response in advanced NSCLC patients. Moreover, high percentage changes in CEC counts after chemotherapy may predict longer OS in advanced NSCLC. High baseline CEC levels might be an indicator of tumor response in advanced NSCLC patients after first-line chemotherapy.

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