Plasma cell-free DNA integrity: a potential biomarker to monitor the response of breast cancer to neoadjuvant chemotherapy

Wei Wang, Weijie Zhang, Lei Su, Jianfeng Sang, Shui Wang, Yongzhong Yao


Background: Although the clinical significance of neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT) is widely recognized, there is still no effective means to monitor the therapeutic response in real time. The present study aimed to investigate the significance of the cell-free DNA (cfDNA) concentration and integrity (cfDI) to monitor the response of breast cancer to NACT.
Methods: Twenty-nine patients with breast cancer receiving NACT were included in this study. Patients’ peripheral blood was drawn before, in the mid-term, and at the end of chemotherapy. The cfDNA concentration and cfDI were assessed using absolute quantitative PCR.
Results: The results showed that the cfDNA concentration and cfDI pre-NACT were not obviously correlated with the patients’ clinical characteristics. The mean cfDI value increased significantly when the patients received NACT (P<0.05), and an increasing cfDI was associated with tumor shrinkage and reduced Ki67 levels (P<0.05). In addition, the cfDI after NACT was inversely correlated with the number of metastatic lymph nodes, and the cfDI value of patients with a pathologically complete response was significantly higher than that of patients with distant metastasis after surgery.
Conclusions: This study suggested that cfDI could be used as an indicator to monitor the therapeutic response to NACT; however, more research is needed to confirm this conclusion.