Pleural fluid cell-free DNA integrity index to identify cytologically negative malignant pleural effusions including mesotheliomas
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Background The diagnosis of malignant pleural effusions (MPE) is often clinically challenging, especially if the cytology is negative for malignancy. DNA integrity index has been reported to be a marker of malignancy. The aim of this study was to evaluate the utility of pleural fluid DNA integrity index in the diagnosis of MPE. Methods We studied 75 pleural fluid and matched serum samples from consecutive subjects. Pleural fluid and serum ALU DNA repeats [115bp, 247bp and 247bp/115bp ratio (DNA integrity index)] were assessed by real-time quantitative PCR. Pleural fluid and serum mesothelin levels were quantified using ELISA. Results Based on clinico-pathological evaluation, 52 subjects had MPE (including 16 mesotheliomas) and 23 had benign effusions. Pleural fluid DNA integrity index was higher in MPE compared with benign effusions (1.2 vs. 0.8; p<0.001). Cytology had a sensitivity of 55% in diagnosing MPE. If cytology and pleural fluid DNA integrity index were considered together, they exhibited 81% sensitivity and 87% specificity in distinguishing benign and malignant effusions. In cytology-negative pleural effusions (35 MPE and 28 benign effusions), elevated pleural fluid DNA integrity index had an 81% positive predictive value in detecting MPEs. In the detection of mesothelioma, at a specificity of 90%, pleural fluid DNA integrity index had similar sensitivity to pleural fluid and serum mesothelin (75% each respectively). Conclusion Pleural fluid DNA integrity index is a promising diagnostic biomarker for identification of MPEs, including mesothelioma. This biomarker may be particularly useful in cases of MPE where pleural aspirate cytology is negative, and could guide the decision to undertake more invasive definitive testing. A prospective validation study is being undertaken to validate our findings and test the clinical utility of this biomarker for altering clinical practice.
© 2012 Sriram et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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