PURPOSE: Retroperitoneal lymph node dissection is recommended for residual masses greater than 1 cm after chemotherapy of nonseminomatous germ cell tumors. Currently there is no reliable predictor of post-chemotherapy retroperitoneal lymph node dissection histology. Up to 50% of patients harbor necrosis/fibrosis only so that a potentially morbid surgery has limited therapeutic value. In this study we evaluated the ability of defined serum miRNAs to predict residual viable nonseminomatous germ cell tumors after chemotherapy.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Levels of serum miRNA, including miR-371a-3p, miR-373-3p and miR-367-3p, were measured using the ampTSmiR (amplification targeted serum miRNA) test in 82 patients, including 39 in cohort 1 and 43 in cohort 2, who were treated with orchiectomy, chemotherapy and post-chemotherapy retroperitoneal lymph node dissection. miRNA levels were compared to clinical characteristics and serum tumor markers, and correlated with the presence of viable germ cell tumor vs fibrosis/necrosis and teratoma. ROC analysis was done to determine miRNA discriminative capacity.
RESULTS: miRNA levels were significantly associated with disease extent at chemotherapy and they decreased significantly after chemotherapy. Conventional serum tumor marker levels were uninformative after chemotherapy. However, after chemotherapy miRNA levels remained elevated in patients harboring viable germ cell tumor in post-chemotherapy retroperitoneal lymph node dissection specimens. miR-371a-3p demonstrated the highest discriminative capacity for viable germ cell tumors (AUC 0.874, 95% CI 0.774-0.974, p <0.0001). Using an adapted hypothetical cutoff of 3 cm or less for surgical intervention miR-371a-3p correctly stratified all patients with viable residual retroperitoneal germ cell tumors with 100% sensitivity (p = 0.02).
CONCLUSIONS: Our study demonstrates for the first time the potential value of miR-371a-3p to predict viable germ cell tumors in residual masses after chemotherapy. Prospective studies are required to confirm clinical usefulness.