Recently, mixed forms between adenocarcinoma and neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC) have emerged that are characterized by persistent androgen receptor (AR)-signalling and elevated chromogranin A (CgA) levels. The main aim of this study was to analyze castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) patients treated with abiraterone or enzalutamide, assessing progression-free/overall survival (PFS/OS) in association with circulating AR and CgA. AR aberrations were analyzed by droplet digital PCR in pre-treatment plasma samples collected from two biomarker protocols [197 patients from a retrospective study (REC 2192/2013) and 59 from a prospective trial (REC 6798/2015)]. We subdivided patients into three groups according to CgA by receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curves. In the primary cohort, plasma AR gain and mutations (p.L702H/p.T878A) were detected in 78 (39.6%) and 16 (8.1%) patients, respectively. We observed a significantly worse PFS/OS in patients with higher-CgA than in patients with normal-CgA, especially those with no AR-aberrations. Multivariable analysis showed AR gain, higher-CgA and LDH levels as independent predictors of PFS [hazard ratio (HR) = 2.16, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.50–3.12, p < 0.0001, HR = 1.73, 95% CI 1.06–2.84, p = 0.026, and HR = 2.13, 95% CI 1.45–3.13, p = 0.0001, respectively) and OS (HR = 1.72, 95% CI 1.15–2.57, p = 0.008, HR = 3.63, 95% CI 2.13–6.20, p < 0.0001, and HR = 2.31, 95% CI 1.54–3.48, p < 0.0001, respectively). These data were confirmed in the secondary cohort. Pre-treatment CgA detection could be useful to identify these mixed tumors and would seem to have a prognostic role, especially in AR-normal patients. This association needs further evaluation in larger prospective cohorts.
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