MSI Analysis in Solid and Liquid Biopsies of Gastroesophageal Adenocarcinoma Patients: A Molecular Approach

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Gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma (GEA) patients with the microsatellite instability (MSI) subtype emerged as optimal candidates for immunotherapy. To date, immunohistochemistry (IHC) is the gold standard for MSI assessment in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) specimens. However, IHC, although useful for diagnostic typing, cannot be used to analyze cell-free DNA (cfDNA) in liquid biopsy, a tool that could overcome tumor heterogeneity and enable longitudinal monitoring. In order to find an alternative diagnostic method to IHC, we analyzed 86 retrospective GEAs FFPE samples with multiplex PCR. Moreover, to verify the feasibility of MSI detection in liquid biopsy, cfDNA samples of five patients that resulted in having MSI in a prospective cohort of 35 patients were evaluated by multiplex PCR, real-time PCR and droplet digital PCR (ddPCR). Analysis of FFPE showed 100% concordance between multiplex PCR and IHC (Cohen's Kappa agreement = 1). On the contrary, only ddPCR was able to detect MSI in cfDNAs of T3/T4 GEA patients. In conclusion, data highlight the molecular analysis as an optimal alternative to IHC for the diagnostic typing and suggest that the ddPCR assay can be considered as the most reliable and promising molecular approach to detect MSI in the cfDNA of GEA patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7244
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalInt J Mol Sci
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 6 2021


  • Adenocarcinoma/genetics
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cell-Free Nucleic Acids/genetics
  • Esophageal Neoplasms/genetics
  • Esophagogastric Junction/pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liquid Biopsy/methods
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Instability
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stomach Neoplasms/genetics


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