Purpose: To evaluate somatic mutations, circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) in patients with Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) with pathologic complete response (pCR) to neoadjuvant therapy (NAT) and find their associations with outcome. Experimental Design: Thirty-six patients with PDAC with pCR were identified from 2009 to 2017. Macrodissection was performed on resected specimens to isolate DNA from 332 regions of interest including fibrosis, normal duct, normal parenchyma, and undefined ductal cells (UDCs). Cell-free DNA and CTCs were also extracted. Next-generation sequencing was used to detect mutations of KRAS, CDKN2A, SMAD4, TP53, GNAS, and BRAF. Results: KRAS mutation was detected in UDCs and fibrosis while SMAD4, TP53, and GNAS were only seen in UDCs. Patients with TP53 mutation showed relatively worse overall survival (HR, 3.596, 95% CI, 0.855-15.130; P ¼ 0.081). Five patients available for CTCs data were all positive for CTCs and seven of 16 patients with pCR were detected with ctDNA at surgery. We proposed a new concept of regression assessment combining genomic analysis of resected specimens and liquid biopsy data for PDAC, namely, molecular complete response (mCR). Three of six patients with mCR recurred as compared with six in 15 non-mCR patients. Seven of 15 non-mCR patients died during follow-up, while there was only one in six patients with mCR. Conclusions: This study first reports that somatic mutations, CTCs, and ctDNA existed even in patients with PDAC with pCR to NAT, which could possibly predict early recurrence and reduced survival. The current regression evaluation system of PDAC needs to be reassessed at a molecular level.
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