Low molecular weight serum cell-free DNA concentration is associated with clinicopathologic indices of poor prognosis in women with uterine cancer

Gregory M. Gressel, Elaine C. Maggi, Bryan E. Harmon, Kenny Q. Ye, D. Y.S. Kuo, Siobhan M. Dolan, Cristina Montagna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Serum cell-free DNA (cfDNA) holds promise as a non-invasive cancer biomarker. The objective of this study was to evaluate the association of cfDNA concentration with clinicopathologic variables of poor prognosis and overall survival among women with uterine cancer compared to benign cancer-free controls. Methods: cfDNA was extracted from the serum of 91 women with multiple uterine cancer histologies and 22 post-menopausal controls without cancer. Low molecular weight (LMW) cfDNA was separated from contaminating genomic high molecular weight cfDNA using paramagnetic bead purification and its concentration was measured using fluorometric quantification. Clinicopathologic data was abstracted from the electronic medical record. The association between serum cfDNA concentration, clinicopathologic variables, and overall survival was assessed using linear regression modelling, Cox proportional hazards modelling, and the Kaplan-Meier method. Results: Median total serum cfDNA concentration for the cohort was 69.2 ng/mL (IQR 37.4, 132.3) and median LMW cfDNA concentration was 23.8 ng/mL (IQR 14.9, 44.4). There were no significant differences in total serum cfDNA concentration with any clinicopathologic variables. However, LMW cfDNA concentration was significantly higher in serum of women with cancer (25.8 ng/mL IQR 16.0, 49.6) compared to benign controls (15.5 ng/mL IQR 9.3, 25.8 ng/mL) (p < 0.01). It is also significantly higher among women with early stage cancer than benign controls (p < 0.01). There were also significant associations between LMW cfDNA concentration and stage of cancer (p = 0.01) and histology (p = 0.02). Patients with leiomyosarcoma and carcinosarcoma had higher cfDNA concentrations than those with endometrioid cancer. Over a median follow-up of 51.9 months, 75th percentile for overall survival for women with cancer was 24.0 months. Higher LMW cfDNA concentrations is associated with lower survival among women with cancer (p < 0.01). Conclusions: Serum LMW cfDNA concentration is associated with overall survival in women with uterine cancer, and it is higher among women with uterine cancer compared to those of controls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number323
JournalJournal of Translational Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 27 2020


  • Cell-free DNA
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Serum DNA
  • Serum biomarkers
  • Uterine cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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