BACKGROUND: Plasma tumour DNA (ptDNA) levels on treatment are associated with response in a variety of cancers. However, the role of ptDNA in prostate cancer monitoring remains largely unexplored. Here we characterised on-treatment ptDNA dynamics and evaluated its potential for early assessment of therapy efficacy for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC).
METHODS: Between 2011 and 2016, 114 sequential plasma samples from 43 mCRPC abiraterone-treated patients were collected. Targeted next-generation sequencing was performed to determine ptDNA fraction. ptDNA progressive disease was defined as a rise in the fraction compared to the pre-treatment.
RESULTS: A ptDNA rise in the first on-treatment sample (interquartile range (IQR) 2.6-3.7 months) was significantly associated with increased risk of early radiographic or any prostate-specific antigen (PSA) rise (odds ratio (OR) = 15.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) 3.5-60.2, p = 0.0002 and OR = 6.0, 95% CI 1.6-20.0, p = 0.01, respectively). We also identified exemplar cases that had a rise in PSA or pseudoprogression secondary to bone flare but no rise in ptDNA. In an exploratory analysis, initial ptDNA change was found to associate with the duration of response to prior androgen deprivation therapy (p < 0.0001) but not to prior taxanes (p = 0.32).
CONCLUSIONS: We found that ptDNA assessment for therapy monitoring in mCRPC is feasible and provides data relevant to the clinical setting. Prospective evaluation of these findings is now merited.