Prognostic Impact of Total Plasma Cell-free DNA Concentration in Androgen Receptor Pathway Inhibitor-treated Metastatic Castration-resistant Prostate Cancer

Heidi Fettke, Edmond M Kwan, Patricia Bukczynska, Nicole Ng, Tu Nguyen-Dumont, Melissa C Southey, Ian D Davis, Andrew Mant, Phillip Parente, Carmel Pezaro, Christine Hauser, Arun A Azad
European Urology Focus 2020 July 29
Total plasma cell-free DNA (cfDNA) levels were recently shown to be prognostic in two large phase III trials of taxane chemotherapy in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). However, whether cfDNA concentration is predictive of treatment outcomes with androgen receptor pathway inhibitors (ARPIs) is unknown. We quantified plasma cfDNA levels at baseline (n = 74) and 4 weeks on treatment (n = 56) in a prospective cohort of mCRPC patients treated with the ARPIs abiraterone acetate or enzalutamide. Elevated total cfDNA concentration (log10 ) at both baseline (hazard ratio [HR] 5.5, p < 0.001) and week 4 (HR 7.5, p < 0.001) was a significant negative prognostic factor for overall survival (OS), a finding maintained after adjustment for plasma circulating tumour DNA fraction. Unexpectedly, a rise in cfDNA concentration from baseline to week 4 was also associated with significantly improved OS (HR 0.14, p = 0.003). Conversely, patients with ≥29.8% decrease in cfDNA from baseline (optimal cut-point) had significantly shorter median OS than the rest of the cohort (10.5 vs 25.7 mo, p = 0.03). Collectively, our findings point to the potential prognostic utility of quantifying cfDNA in mCRPC and in particular suggest that dynamic changes in total cfDNA levels may be a novel early predictive biomarker for therapeutic outcome in ARPI-treated patients. PATIENT SUMMARY: We measured the levels of total cell-free DNA (cfDNA) in the plasma of patients with metastatic prostate cancer prior to and 4 weeks after starting new hormonal drugs. We found that patients with higher levels of cfDNA or a higher proportion of tumour-derived DNA at baseline had worse outcomes on hormonal therapies. Similarly, higher levels of cfDNA at 4 weeks into therapy were also associated with worse outcomes. However, a rise in total cfDNA levels at 4 weeks compared with baseline was linked with better outcomes. Measuring changes in cfDNA concentration may be a useful and technically straightforward early way to predict how patients will respond to treatment in metastatic prostate cancer.

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