Publications by authors named "Kristina E Aaltonen"

7 Publications

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Detection of circulating tumor cells and circulating tumor DNA before and after mammographic breast compression in a cohort of breast cancer patients scheduled for neoadjuvant treatment.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2019 Sep 24;177(2):447-455. Epub 2019 Jun 24.

Department of Clinical Sciences Lund, Division of Surgery, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

Purpose: It is not known if mammographic breast compression of a primary tumor causes shedding of tumor cells into the circulatory system. Little is known about how the detection of circulating biomarkers such as circulating tumor cells (CTCs) or circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) is affected by breast compression intervention.

Methods: CTCs and ctDNA were analyzed in blood samples collected before and after breast compression in 31 patients with primary breast cancer scheduled for neoadjuvant therapy. All patients had a central venous access to allow administration of intravenous neoadjuvant chemotherapy, which enabled blood collection from superior vena cava, draining the breasts, in addition to sampling from a peripheral vein.

Results: CTC and ctDNA positivity was seen in 26% and 65% of the patients, respectively. There was a significant increase of ctDNA after breast compression in central blood (p = 0.01), not observed in peripheral testing. No increase related with breast compression was observed for CTC. ctDNA positivity was associated with older age (p = 0.05), and ctDNA increase after breast compression was associated with high Ki67 proliferating tumors (p = 0.04). CTCs were more abundant in central compared to peripheral blood samples (p = 0.04).

Conclusions: There was no significant release of CTCs after mammographic breast compression but more CTCs were present in central compared to peripheral blood. No significant difference between central and peripheral levels of ctDNA was observed. The small average increase in ctDNA after breast compression is unlikely to be clinically relevant. The results give support for mammography as a safe procedure from the point of view of CTC and ctDNA shedding to the blood circulation. The results may have implications for the standardization of sampling procedures for circulating tumor markers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10549-019-05326-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6661025PMC
September 2019

Molecular characterization of circulating tumor cells from patients with metastatic breast cancer reflects evolutionary changes in gene expression under the pressure of systemic therapy.

Oncotarget 2017 Jul;8(28):45544-45565

Department of Clinical Sciences Lund, Division of Surgery, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

Resistance to systemic therapy is a major problem in metastatic breast cancer (MBC) that can be explained by initial tumor heterogeneity as well as by evolutionary changes during therapy and tumor progression. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) detected in a liquid biopsy can be sampled and characterized repeatedly during therapy in order to monitor treatment response and disease progression.Our aim was to investigate how CTC derived gene expression of treatment predictive markers (ESR1/HER2) and other cancer associated markers changed in patient blood samples during six months of first-line systemic treatment for MBC. CTCs from 36 patients were enriched using CellSearch (Janssen Diagnostics) and AdnaTest (QIAGEN) before gene expression analysis was performed with a customized gene panel (TATAA Biocenter).Our results show that antibodies against HER2 and EGFR were valuable to isolate CTCs unidentified by CellSearch and possibly lacking EpCAM expression. Evaluation of patients with clinically different breast cancer subgroups demonstrated that gene expression of treatment predictive markers changed over time. This change was especially prominent for HER2 expression.In conclusion, we found that changed gene expression during first-line systemic therapy for MBC could be a possible explanation for treatment resistance. Characterization of CTCs at several time-points during therapy could be informative for treatment selection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.17271DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5542207PMC
July 2017

Prognostic impact of circulating tumor cell apoptosis and clusters in serial blood samples from patients with metastatic breast cancer in a prospective observational cohort.

BMC Cancer 2016 07 8;16:433. Epub 2016 Jul 8.

Department of Surgery, Skåne University Hospital, SE-214 28, Malmö, Sweden.

Background: Presence of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) is a validated prognostic marker in metastatic breast cancer. Additional prognostic information may be obtained by morphologic characterization of CTCs. We explored whether apoptotic CTCs, CTC clusters and leukocytes attached to CTCs are associated with breast cancer subtype and prognosis at base-line (BL) and in follow-up (FU) blood samples in patients with metastatic breast cancer scheduled for first-line systemic treatment.

Methods: Patients with a first metastatic breast cancer event were enrolled in a prospective observational study prior to therapy initiation and the CellSearch system (Janssen Diagnostics) was used for CTC enumeration and characterization. We enrolled patients (N = 52) with ≥5 CTC/7.5 ml blood at BL (median 45, range 5-668) and followed them with blood sampling for 6 months during therapy. CTCs were evaluated for apoptotic changes, CTC clusters (≥3 nuclei), and leukocytes associated with CTC (WBC-CTC, ≥1 CTC + ≥1 leukocytes) at all time-points by visual examination of the galleries generated by the CellTracks Analyzer.

Results: At BL, patients with triple-negative and HER2-positive breast cancer had blood CTC clusters present more frequently than patients with hormone receptor-positive cancer (P = 0.010). No morphologic characteristics were associated with prognosis at BL, whereas patients with apoptotic CTCs or clusters in FU samples had worse prognosis compared to patients without these characteristics with respect to progression-free (PFS) and overall survival (OS) (log-rank test: P = 0.0012 or lower). Patients with apoptotic or clustered CTCs at any time-point had impaired prognosis in multivariable analyses adjusting for number of CTCs and other prognostic factors (apoptosis: HROS = 25, P < 0.001; cluster: HROS = 7.0, P = 0.006). The presence of WBC-CTCs was significantly associated with an inferior prognosis in terms of OS at 6 months in multivariable analysis.

Conclusions: Patients with a continuous presence of apoptotic or clustered CTCs in FU samples after systemic therapy initiation had worse prognosis than patients without these CTC characteristics. In patients with ≥5 CTC/7.5 ml blood at BL, morphologic characterization of persistent CTCs could be an important prognostic marker during treatment, in addition to CTC enumeration alone. Clinical Trials (NCT01322893), registration date 21 March 2011.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12885-016-2406-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4938919PMC
July 2016

Association between insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF1R) negativity and poor prognosis in a cohort of women with primary breast cancer.

BMC Cancer 2014 Nov 3;14:794. Epub 2014 Nov 3.

Division of Oncology and Pathology, Department of Clinical Sciences Lund, Lund University, Medicon Village, SE-223 81 Lund, Sweden.

Background: Resistance towards endocrine therapy is a great concern in breast cancer treatment and may partly be explained by the activation of compensatory signaling pathways. The aim of the present study was to investigate if the insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF1R) signaling pathway was activated or deregulated in breast cancer patients and to explore if any of the markers were prognostic, with or without adjuvant tamoxifen. This signaling pathway has been suggested to cause estrogen independent cell growth and thus contribute to resistance to endocrine treatment in estrogen receptor (ER) positive breast cancer.

Methods: The protein expression of IGF1R, phosphorylated Mammalian Target of Rapamycin (p-mTOR) and phosphorylated S6 ribosomal protein (p-S6rp) were investigated by immunohistochemistry using tissue microarrays in two patient cohorts. Cohort I (N = 264) consisted of mainly postmenopausal women with stage II breast cancer treated with tamoxifen for 2 years irrespective of ER status. Cohort II (N = 206) consisted of mainly medically untreated, premenopausal patients with node-negative breast cancer. Distant disease-free survival (DDFS) at 5 years was used as end-point for survival analyses.

Results: We found that lower IGF1R expression was associated with worse prognosis for tamoxifen treated, postmenopausal women (HR = 0.70, 95% CI = 0.52 - 0.94, p = 0.016). The effect was seen mainly in ER-negative patients where the prognostic effect was retained after adjustment for other prognostic markers (adjusted HR = 0.49, 95% CI = 0.29 - 0.82, p = 0.007). Expression of IGF1R was associated with ER positivity (p < 0.001) in the same patient cohort.

Conclusions: Our results support previous studies indicating that IGF1R positivity reflects a well differentiated tumor with low metastatic capacity. An association between lack of IGF1R expression and worse prognosis was mainly seen in the ER-negative part of Cohort I. The lack of co-activation of downstream markers (p-mTOR and p-S6rp) in the IGF1R pathway suggested that the prognostic effect was not due to complete activation of this pathway. Thus, no evidence could be found for a compensatory function of IGF1R signaling in the investigated cohorts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2407-14-794DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4232733PMC
November 2014

Transurethral bladder tumor resection can cause seeding of cancer cells into the bloodstream.

J Urol 2015 Jan 1;193(1):53-7. Epub 2014 Jul 1.

Department of Urology, Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden. Electronic address:

Purpose: Transurethral bladder tumor resection is the initial diagnostic procedure for bladder cancer. Hypothetically tumor resection could induce seeding of cancer cells into the circulation and subsequent metastatic disease. In this study we ascertain whether transurethral bladder tumor resection induces measurable seeding of cancer cells into the vascular system.

Materials And Methods: Patients newly diagnosed with suspected invasive bladder cancer and planned for transurethral resection of bladder tumor in 2012 to 2013 were enrolled in the study. Before transurethral bladder tumor resection a vascular surgeon placed a venous catheter in the inferior vena cava via the femoral vein. Blood samples were drawn before and during the resection from the inferior vena cava and a peripheral vein, and analyzed for circulating cancer cells using the CellSearch® system. The number of circulating tumor cells identified was compared in preoperative and intraoperative blood samples.

Results: The circulating tumor cell data on 16 eligible patients were analyzed. In 6 of 7 positive inferior vena cava samples (86%) the number of circulating tumor cells was increased intraoperatively (28 vs 9, 28 vs 0, 28 vs 5, 3 vs 0, 4 vs 0, 1 vs 0), and results were similar, although less conclusive, for the corresponding peripheral vein samples.

Conclusions: Our study confirms that tumor cells can be released into the circulation during transurethral bladder tumor resection. It is currently unknown whether this will increase the risk of metastatic disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.juro.2014.06.083DOI Listing
January 2015

Increased gene copy number of KIT and VEGFR2 at 4q12 in primary breast cancer is related to an aggressive phenotype and impaired prognosis.

Genes Chromosomes Cancer 2012 Apr 14;51(4):375-83. Epub 2011 Dec 14.

Department of Oncology, Clinical Sciences and CREATE Health Strategic Center for Translational Cancer Research, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is associated with poor prognosis and no targeted treatments are available for TNBC. Drugs inhibiting tyrosine kinases, such as vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2) and KIT, have shown some promising results for patients with TNBC. The aim of the study was to investigate whether gains and/or amplifications of VEGFR2 and KIT, located at 4q12, occur in TNBC. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was used to quantify gene copy numbers of VEGFR2 and KIT in 83 primary human breast cancers including 31 TNBCs. Gains were defined as ≥ 4 gene copies in >40% of the cancer cells, whereas amplification was defined as CEP >2 in more than 10% of the cancer cells. A tumor was considered FISH positive for KIT and/or VEGFR2 if it displayed copy number gain and/or amplification. Ten (32%) of the TNBCs were VEGFR2 FISH positive and nine (29%) were KIT FISH positive, whereas non-TNBCs were FISH positive for VEGFR2 and KIT in nine (18%) cases for both genes, but no significant difference between TNBCs and non-TNBCs was found. FISH positivity for VEGFR2 and KIT was significantly correlated (χ(2) test, P < 0.001), and significantly related to ER negativity and high Nottingham histological grade (NHG). A significantly worse 5-year breast cancer specific survival (BCSS) was seen for FISH positive cases. Increased copy number of VEGFR2 and KIT thus has the potential of functioning as a novel predictive biomarker for selected targeted therapy particularly in the difficult-to-treat TNBC patient category.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/gcc.21922DOI Listing
April 2012

Laser capture microdissection (LCM) and whole genome amplification (WGA) of DNA from normal breast tissue --- optimization for genome wide array analyses.

BMC Res Notes 2011 Mar 18;4:69. Epub 2011 Mar 18.

Department of Oncology, Clinical Sciences, Lund, Lund University, Barngatan 2B, SE-221 85 Lund, Sweden.

Background: Laser capture microdissection (LCM) can be applied to tissues where cells of interest are distinguishable from surrounding cell populations. Here, we have optimized LCM for fresh frozen normal breast tissue where large amounts of fat can cause problems during microdissection. Since the amount of DNA needed for genome wide analyses, such as single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays, is often greater than what can be obtained from the dissected tissue, we have compared three different whole genome amplification (WGA) kits for amplification of DNA from LCM material. In addition, the genome wide profiling methods commonly used today require extremely high DNA quality compared to PCR based techniques and DNA quality is thus critical for successful downstream analyses.

Findings: We found that by using FrameSlides without glass backing for LCM and treating the slides with acetone after staining, the problems caused by excessive fat could be significantly decreased. The amount of DNA obtained after extraction from LCM tissue was not sufficient for direct SNP array analysis in our material. However, the two WGA kits based on Phi29 polymerase technology (Repli-g® (Qiagen) and GenomiPhi (GE Healthcare)) gave relatively long amplification products, and amplified DNA from Repli-g® gave call rates in the subsequent SNP analysis close to those from non-amplified DNA. Furthermore, the quality of the input DNA for WGA was found to be essential for successful SNP array results and initial DNA fragmentation problems could be reduced by switching from a regular halogen lamp to a VIS-LED lamp during LCM.

Conclusions: LCM must be optimized to work satisfactorily in difficult tissues. We describe a work flow for fresh frozen normal breast tissue where fat is inclined to cause problems if sample treatment is not adapted to this tissue. We also show that the Phi29-based Repli-g® WGA kit (Qiagen) is a feasible approach to amplify DNA of high quality prior to genome wide analyses such as SNP profiling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1756-0500-4-69DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3068970PMC
March 2011
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