Phenotypic heterogeneity of circulating tumor cells informs clinical decisions between AR signaling inhibitors and taxanes in metastatic prostate cancer
The heterogeneity of an individual patient's tumor has been linked to treatment resistance, but quantitative biomarkers to rapidly and reproducibly evaluate heterogeneity in a clinical setting are currently lacking. Using established tools available in a College of American Pathologists-accredited and Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments-certified clinical laboratory, we quantified digital pathology features on 9,225 individual circulating tumor cells (CTC) from 179 unique metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) patients to define phenotypically distinct cell types. Heterogeneity was quantified on the basis of the diversity of cell types in individual patient samples using the Shannon index and associated with overall survival (OS) in the 145 specimens collected prior to initiation of the second or later lines of therapy. Low CTC phenotypic heterogeneity was associated with better OS in patients treated with androgen receptor signaling inhibitors (ARSI), whereas high heterogeneity was associated with better OS in patients treated with taxane chemotherapy. Overall, the results show that quantifying CTC phenotypic heterogeneity can help inform the choice between ARSI and taxanes in mCRPC patients. Cancer Res; 77(20); 5687-98. ©2017 AACR.
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