Allelic Imbalance Analysis in Liquid Biopsy to Monitor Locally Advanced Esophageal Cancer Patients During Treatment

Elisa Boldrin, Matteo Curtarello, Matteo Fassan, Massimo Rugge, Stefano Realdon, Rita Alfieri, Alberto Amadori, Daniela Saggioro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Esophageal cancer (EC) is a highly aggressive tumor, and the current monitoring procedures are partially inadequate to evaluate treatment efficacy. The aim of this study was to investigate whether allelic imbalance analysis in liquid biopsy could be used as an additional tool to monitor tumor burden in EC patients. For this purpose, circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) from 52 patients with a locally advanced EC, which underwent neoadjuvant treatment and resection, was analyzed. Data from four representative longitudinally followed patients are also reported. Furthermore, 17 DNAs from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tumor samples were analyzed and compared to time-matched cfDNAs. To look for allelic imbalance, which is the main genetic alteration in both EC histotypes, we used a panel of five microsatellites (MSs) and three single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) near genes described as frequently altered. The Fisher exact and Mann-Whitney U tests were used to analyze categorical and continuous data, respectively. The correlation coefficient between cfDNA and FFPE-DNA was calculated with the Pearson's correlation test. We found that the selected tumor-related alterations are present in cfDNA of both adenocarcinoma (EADC) and squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) with similar frequencies. The only exception were the MSs, one downstream and one upstream, of SMAD4 of which the loss was only observed in EADC (26 vs. 0%, P = 0.018). More interestingly, longitudinal studies disclosed that in patients with disease progression, tumor-related alterations were present in cfDNA before overt clinical or instrumental signs of relapse. In conclusion, our data indicate that the evaluation of tumor-related gene allelic imbalance in cfDNA might be a useful tool to complement the current monitoring procedures for EC patients and to guide their management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1320
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Publication statusPublished - Aug 28 2020


  • allelic imbalance
  • circulating cell free DNA (cfDNA)
  • esophageal adenocarcinoma (EADC)
  • esophageal cancer
  • esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC)
  • liquid biopsy
  • longitudinal studies
  • loss of heterozygosis (LOH)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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