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Szkandera J.,Medical University of Graz | Absenger G.,Medical University of Graz | Asslaber M.,Institute of Pathology | Lax S.,General Hospital Graz West | And 4 more authors.
Clinical Cancer Research | Year: 2014

Purpose: Cumulating evidence indicates that germline variants in the Wnt, Notch, and Hedgehog pathways are involved in colon carcinoma progression and metastasis. We investigated germline polymorphisms in a comprehensive panel of Wnt, Notch, and Hedgehog pathway genes to predict time to recurrence (TTR) and overall survival in patients with stage II and III colon carcinoma. Experimental Design: A total of 742 consecutively collected patients with stage II and III colon carcinoma were included in this retrospective study. Genomic DNA was analyzed for 18 germline polymorphisms in Wnt, Notch, and Hedgehog pathway genes (SFRP, DKK 2 and 3, AXIN2, APC, MYC, TCF7L2, NOTCH2, and GLI1) by TaqMan 50-exonuclease assays. Results: In univariate analysis, the homozygous mutant variant of GLI1 rs2228226G>C was significantly associated with decreased TTR in a recessive genetic model after adjustment for multiple testing [HR =2.35; confidence interval (95% CI), 1.48-3.74; P < 0.001] and remained significant in multivariate analysis including clinical stage, lymphovascular-, vascular-, and perineural-invasion (HR = 2.43; CI 95%, 1.52- 3.87; P < 0.001). In subanalyses, the association was limited to patients with surgery alone (HR = 3.21; CI 95%, 1.59-6.49; P = 0.001), in contrast with patients with adjuvant chemotherapy (HR = 0.82; CI 95%, 0.35-1.95; P = 0.657). When the subgroup of patients with "high-risk" GLI1 rs2228226 C/C genotype was analyzed, no benefit of adjuvant 5-fluorouracil-based chemotherapy could be found. Conclusion: This is the first study identifying GLI1 rs2228226G>C as an independent prognostic marker in patients with stage II and III colon carcinoma. Prospective studies are warranted to validate our findings. © 2014 American Association for Cancer Research.


Heidary M.,Medical University of Graz | Auer M.,Medical University of Graz | Ulz P.,Medical University of Graz | Heitzer E.,Medical University of Graz | And 10 more authors.
Breast Cancer Research | Year: 2014

Introduction: The management of metastatic breast cancer needs improvement. As clinical evaluation is not very accurate in determining the progression of disease, the analysis of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) has evolved to a promising noninvasive marker of disease evolution. Indeed, ctDNA was reported to represent a highly sensitive biomarker of metastatic cancer disease directly reflecting tumor burden and dynamics. However, at present little is known about the dynamic range of ctDNA in patients with metastatic breast cancer. Methods: In this study, 74 plasma DNA samples from 58 patients with metastasized breast cancer were analyzed with a microfluidic device to determine the plasma DNA size distribution and copy number changes in the plasma were identified by whole-genome sequencing (plasma-Seq). Furthermore, in an index patient we conducted whole-genome, exome, or targeted deep sequencing of the primary tumor, metastases, and circulating tumor cells (CTCs). Deep sequencing was done to accurately determine the allele fraction (AFs) of mutated DNA fragments. Results: Although all patients had metastatic disease, plasma analyses demonstrated highly variable AFs of mutant fragments. We analyzed an index patient with more than 100,000 CTCs in detail. We first conducted whole-genome, exome, or targeted deep sequencing of four different regions from the primary tumor and three metastatic lymph node regions, which enabled us to establish the phylogenetic relationships of these lesions, which were consistent with a genetically homogeneous cancer. Subsequent analyses of 551 CTCs confirmed the genetically homogeneous cancer in three serial blood analyses. However, the AFs of ctDNA were only 2% to 3% in each analysis, neither reflecting the tumor burden nor the dynamics of this progressive disease. These results together with high-resolution plasma DNA fragment sizing suggested that differences in phagocytosis and DNA degradation mechanisms likely explain the variable occurrence of mutated DNA fragments in the blood of patients with cancer. Conclusions: The dynamic range of ctDNA varies substantially in patients with metastatic breast cancer. This has important implications for the use of ctDNA as a predictive and prognostic biomarker. © 2014 Heidary et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Pichler M.,Medical University of Graz | Winter E.,Medical University of Graz | Ress A.L.,Medical University of Graz | Bauernhofer T.,Medical University of Graz | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Clinical Pathology | Year: 2014

Aims miR-181a expression is frequently altered in different types of cancer. Members of the Wnt/β-catenin signalling pathway, which is commonly altered in colorectal cancer (CRC), have been reported as molecular interaction partners of miR-181. However, the role of miR-181a expression in CRC and its ability to predict survival and response to agents targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) have not been explored yet. Methods In this study, we analysed 80 patients with wild type KRAS CRC undergoing treatment with the EGFR-targeting monoclonal antibodies cetuximab and panitumumab for metastatic CRC. The KRAS mutational status was determined by pyrosequencing and miR-181a expression was measured by quantitative RT-PCR in CRC tumour tissue and corresponding non-neoplastic colon tissue. The microRNA expression levels were correlated with clinicopathological characteristics. Cancer-specific survival was calculated by univariate and multivariate analyses, and progression-free survival (PFS) during treatment with EGFR-targeting agents was also evaluated. Results A low miR-181a expression level was associated with poor differentiation of CRC ( p=0.04). A Kaplan-Meier curve showed a decreased survival time for patients with low miR-181a expression (p=0.019). Low miR-181a expression was furthermore associated with poor PFS (p=0.015). Conclusions In conclusion, our data suggest that the miR-181a expression level is associated with poor survival in patients with CRC. Furthermore, miR-181a expression might predict PFS in EGFR-targeted therapy.


Szkandera J.,Medical University of Graz | Absenger G.,Medical University of Graz | Dandachi N.,Medical University of Graz | Regitnig P.,Medical University of Graz | And 5 more authors.
Molecular Genetics and Genomics | Year: 2012

To elucidate the role of predictive factors on individual's drug response, based on genetic variation, we examined the association between eight germline polymorphisms in genes involved in protection against oxidative stress, apoptosis, oncogenic transformation, proliferation, immune response and DNA repair (TP53, NQO1, IL6, TLR4 and XRCC1) and the pathological response to anthracycline-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy in 70 patients with breast cancer. The DNA was genotyped for eight polymorphisms in five genes (TP53, NQO1, IL6, TLR4 and XRCC1) by 5'-exonuclease (TaqMan™) technology. Fisher's exact test was used to evaluate the association between genotype, clinicopathological parameters and pathological response. A good pathological response, defined as a pathological complete response or residual isolated invasive tumor cells, was found significantly more frequently for estrogen (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) negative breast carcinomas compared to ER and PR positive and ER or PR positive carcinomas, respectively (43.5 vs. 37.5 and 10.3 %, p = 0.006), and was significantly associated with high tumor grade (G3) (p = 0.002). A non-significant trend towards a good pathological response was shown in patients carrying the Arg/Arg or Arg/Pro TP53 codon 72 gene variant compared to those harboring the Pro/Pro variant (17.6 or 37.9 % vs. 0; p = 0.071). No association was found between NQO1 Pro187Ser, IL6-174G>C, TLR4 Asp299Gly and Thr399Ile, and XRCC1 Arg194Trp, Arg399Gln and Arg280His and pathological response. The present study shows hormone receptor status and tumor grade as predictors for pathological response to neoadjuvant anthracycline-based chemotherapy. Among various functional germline polymorphisms, a potential predictive value was only found for the TP53 Arg72Pro gene variant. © Springer-Verlag 2012.


Pichler M.,Medical University of Graz | Winter E.,Medical University of Graz | Stotz M.,Medical University of Graz | Eberhard K.,Medical University of Graz | And 3 more authors.
British Journal of Cancer | Year: 2012

Background: MicroRNA-143 (miRNA-143) is frequently down-regulated in colorectal cancer (CRC) and may influence CRC cell proliferation, apoptosis and sensitivity to 5-fluorouracil. mRNA encoded by the KRAS oncogene has been identified as a target of miRNA-143. However, the prognostic significance of miRNA-143 expression and the ability to predict patient response to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-targeted agents have not yet been explored. Methods: We examined 77 CRC patients who were identified by pyrosequencing to have wild-type KRAS and were subsequently treated with EGFR-targeted therapy with the monoclonal antibodies cetuximab or panitumumab. MicroRNA-143 expression was measured in CRC tissue and corresponding non-neoplastic colon tissue by RT-PCR and its expression level was correlated with clinico-pathological characteristics. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to calculate cancer-specific survival (CSS). The progression-free survival (PFS) and objective response rates on EGFR-targeted therapy were also evaluated. Results: Down-regulation of miRNA-143 was observed in 47 out of 77 (61%) tumours. Multivariate Cox regression analysis identified low levels of miRNA-143 expression as an independent prognostic factor with respect to CSS (hazard ratio = 1.92, confidence interval = 1.1-3.4, P = 0.024). A significant difference was also observed with regard to PFS on EGFR-targeted therapy (P = 0.031), but there were no significant differences with regard to the objective response rates. Conclusion: Our data indicate that miRNA-143 expression levels serve as an independent prognostic biomarker for CRC in KRAS wild-type patients. No role for miRNA-143 expression as a predictive biomarker for EGFR-targeted agents could be identified. Given its negative impact on CSS and PFS, miRNA-143 represents a novel prognosticator and a promising drug target for patients with CRC. © 2012 Cancer Research UK.


Smolle E.,Medical University of Graz | Taucher V.,Medical University of Graz | Pichler M.,Medical University of Graz | Petru E.,Medical University of Graz | And 2 more authors.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences | Year: 2013

Ovarian carcinoma (OC) is the most lethal gynecological malignancy. Response to platinum-based chemotherapy is poor in some patients and, thus, current research is focusing on new therapy options. The various histological types of OC are characterized by distinctive molecular genetic alterations that are relevant for ovarian tumorigenesis. The understanding of these molecular pathways is essential for the development of novel therapeutic strategies. Purpose: We want to give an overview on the molecular genetic changes of the histopathological types of OC and their role as putative therapeutic targets. In Depth Review of Existing Data: In 2012, the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor, bevacizumab, was approved for OC treatment. Bevacizumab has shown promising results as single agent and in combination with conventional chemotherapy, but its target is not distinctive when analyzed before treatment. At present, mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors, poly-ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitors and components of the EGFR pathway are in the focus of clinical research. Interestingly, some phytochemical substances show good synergistic effects when used in combination with chemotherapy. Conclusion: Ongoing studies of targeted agents in conjunction with chemotherapy will show whether there are alternative options to bevacizumab available for OC patients. Novel targets which can be assessed before therapy to predict efficacy are needed. The assessment of therapeutic targets is continuously improved by molecular pathological analyses on tumor tissue. A careful selection of patients for personalized treatment will help to reduce putative side effects and toxicity. © 2013 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


Heitzer E.,Medical University of Graz | Auer M.,Medical University of Graz | Gasch C.,University of Hamburg | Pichler M.,Divisions of Oncology | And 15 more authors.
Cancer Research | Year: 2013

Circulating tumor cells (CTC) released into blood from primary cancers and metastases reflect the current status of tumor genotypes, which are prone to changes. Here, we conducted the first comprehensive genomic profiling of CTCs using array-comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) and next-generation sequencing.We used the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-cleared CellSearch system, which detected CTCs in 21 of 37 patients (range, 1-202/7.5 mL sample) with stage IV colorectal carcinoma. In total, we were able to isolate 37 intact CTCs from six patients and identified in those multiple colorectal cancer-associated copy number changes, many of which were also present in the respective primary tumor. We then used massive parallel sequencing of a panel of 68 colorectal cancer-associated genes to compare the mutation spectrum in the primary tumors, metastases, and the corresponding CTCs from two of these patients. Mutations in known driver genes [e.g., adenomatous polyposis coli (APC), KRAS, or PIK3CA] found in the primary tumor and metastasis were also detected in corresponding CTCs. However, we also observed mutations exclusively in CTCs. To address whether these mutations were derived from a small subclone in the primary tumor or represented new variants of metastatic cells, we conducted additional deep sequencing of the primary tumor and metastasis and applied a customized statistical algorithm for analysis. We found that most mutations initially found only in CTCs were also present at subclonal level in the primary tumors andmetastases fromthe same patient. This study paves the way to use CTCs as a liquid biopsy in patients with cancer, providing more effective options to monitor tumor genomes that are prone to change during progression, treatment, and relapse. Cancer Res; 73(10); 2965-75. © 2013 AACR.


Mohan S.,Medical University of Graz | Heitzer E.,Medical University of Graz | Ulz P.,Medical University of Graz | Lafer I.,Medical University of Graz | And 9 more authors.
PLoS Genetics | Year: 2014

Monoclonal antibodies targeting the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR), such as cetuximab and panitumumab, have evolved to important therapeutic options in metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC). However, almost all patients with clinical response to anti-EGFR therapies show disease progression within a few months and little is known about mechanism and timing of resistance evolution. Here we analyzed plasma DNA from ten patients treated with anti-EGFR therapy by whole genome sequencing (plasma-Seq) and ultra-sensitive deep sequencing of genes associated with resistance to anti-EGFR treatment such as KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA, and EGFR. Surprisingly, we observed that the development of resistance to anti-EGFR therapies was associated with acquired gains of KRAS in four patients (40%), which occurred either as novel focal amplifications (n = 3) or as high level polysomy of 12p (n = 1). In addition, we observed focal amplifications of other genes recently shown to be involved in acquired resistance to anti-EGFR therapies, such as MET (n = 2) and ERBB2 (n = 1). Overrepresentation of the EGFR gene was associated with a good initial anti-EGFR efficacy. Overall, we identified predictive biomarkers associated with anti-EGFR efficacy in seven patients (70%), which correlated well with treatment response. In contrast, ultra-sensitive deep sequencing of KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA, and EGFR did not reveal the occurrence of novel, acquired mutations. Thus, plasma-Seq enables the identification of novel mutant clones and may therefore facilitate early adjustments of therapies that may delay or prevent disease progression. © 2014 Mohan et al.


PubMed | General Hospital Klagenfurt, Innsbruck Medical University, University of Zürich, Paracelsus Medical University and 4 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Open forum infectious diseases | Year: 2016

Background. Viral loads (VLs) detectable at low levels are not uncommon in patients on combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). We investigated whether a single quantifiable VL predicted virological failure (VF). Methods. We analyzed patients receiving standard regimens with at least 1 VL measurement below the limit of quantification (BLQ) in their treatment history. The first VL measurement after 6 months of unmodified cART served as baseline VL for the subsequent analyses of the time to reach single VL levels of 200, 400, and 1000 copies/mL. Roche TaqMan 2.0 was used to quantify human immunodeficiency virus-1 ribonucleic acid. Factors associated with VF were determined by Cox proportional hazards models. Results. Of 1614 patients included in the study, 68, 44, and 34 experienced VF 200, 400, and 1000 copies/mL, respectively. In multivariable analyses, compared with patients who were BLQ, a detectable VL 50 and VL 51-199 copies/mL predicted VF 200 copies/mL (hazards ratio [HR] = 2.19, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.06-4.55 and HR = 4.21, 95% CI = 2.15-8.22, respectively). In those with VL 51-199 copies/mL, a trend for an increased risk of VF 400 and VF 1000 copies/mL could be found (HR = 2.13, 95% CI = 0.84-5.39 and HR = 2.52, 95% CI = 0.96-6.60, respectively). Conclusions. These findings support closer monitoring and adherence counseling for patients with a single measurement of quantifiable VL <200 copies/mL.


PubMed | General Hospital Klagenfurt, Innsbruck Medical University, University of Zürich, General Hospital Linz and 4 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2015

In human immunodeficiency virus treatment adequate virological suppression is warranted, nevertheless for some patients it remains a challenge. We investigated factors associated with low-level viraemia (LLV) and virological failure (VF) under combined antiretroviral therapy (cART).We analysed patients receiving standard regimens between 1st July 2012 and 1st July 2013 with at least one viral load (VL) measurement below the quantification limit (BLQ) in their treatment history. After a minimum of 6 months of unmodified cART, the next single VL measurement within 6 months was analysed. VF was defined as HIV RNA levels 200 copies/mL and all other quantifiable measurements were classified as LLV. Factors associated with LLV and VF compared to BLQ were identified by logistic regression models.Of 2276 participants, 1972 (86.6%) were BLQ, 222 (9.8%) showed LLV and 82 (3.6%) had VF. A higher risk for LLV and VF was shown in patients with cART interruptions and in patients with boosted PI therapy. The risk for LLV and VF was lower in patients from centres using the Abbott compared to the Roche assay to measure VL. A higher risk for LLV but not for VF was found in patients with a higher VL before cART [for >99.999 copies/mL: aOR (95% CI): 4.19 (2.07-8.49); for 10.000-99.999 copies/mL: aOR (95% CI): 2.52 (1.23-5.19)] and shorter cART duration [for <9 months: aOR (95% CI): 2.59 (1.38-4.86)]. A higher risk for VF but not for LLV was found in younger patients [for <30 years: aOR (95% CI): 2.76 (1.03-7.35); for 30-50 years: aOR (95% CI): 2.70 (1.26-5.79)], people originating from high prevalence countries [aOR (95% CI): 2.20 (1.09-4.42)] and in male injecting drug users [aOR (95% CI): 2.72 (1.38-5.34)].For both VF and LLV, factors associated with adherence play a prominent role. Furthermore, performance characteristics of the diagnostic assay used for VL quantification should also be taken into consideration.

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