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Dynamics of methylated cell-free DNA in the urine of non-small cell lung cancer patients

posted on 2022-10-06, 11:40 authored by Sander Bach, Birgit M.M. Wever, Mark A. van de Wiel, Joris D. Veltman, Sayed M.S. Hashemi, Geert Kazemier, Idris Bahce, Renske D.M. Steenbergen

High levels of methylated DNA in urine represent an emerging biomarker for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) detection and are the subject of ongoing research. This study aimed to investigate the circadian variation of urinary cell-free DNA (cfDNA) abundance and methylation levels of cancer-associated genes in NSCLC patients. In this prospective study of 23 metastatic NSCLC patients with active disease, patients were asked to collect six urine samples during the morning, afternoon, and evening of two subsequent days. Urinary cfDNA concentrations and methylation levels of CDO1, SOX17, and TAC1 were measured at each time point. Circadian variation and between- and within-subject variability were assessed using linear mixed models. Variability was estimated using the Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC), representing reproducibility. No clear circadian patterns could be recognized for cfDNA concentrations or methylation levels across the different sampling time points. Significantly lower cfDNA concentrations were found in males (p=0.034). For cfDNA levels, the between- and within-subject variability were comparable, rendering an ICC of 0.49. For the methylation markers, ICCs varied considerably, ranging from 0.14 to 0.74. Test reproducibility could be improved by collecting multiple samples per patient. In conclusion, there is no preferred collection time for NSCLC detection in urine using methylation markers, but single measurements should be interpreted carefully, and serial sampling may increase test performance. This study contributes to the limited understanding of cfDNA dynamics in urine and the continued interest in urine-based liquid biopsies for cancer diagnostics.


This work was supported by the Cancer Center Amsterdam Foundation; Edli Foundation; and Weijerhorst Foundation. Funders only provided financial support for the conduct of the research or had no role in conducting the research and preparation of the manuscript. This research did not receive any other specific grants from funding agencies in the public or commercial sectors.