Cell-free DNA alterations in the AR enhancer and locus predict resistance to AR-directed therapy in patients with metastatic prostate cancer

Ha X. Dang, Pradeep S. Chauhan, Haley Ellis, Wenjia Feng, Peter K. Harris, Grace Smith, Mark Qiao, Katherine Dienstbach, Rachel Beck, Andrew Atkocius, Faridi Qaium, Jingqin Luo, Jeff M. Michalski, Joel Picus, Russell K. Pachynski, Christopher A. Maher, Aadel A. Chaudhuri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


PURPOSE Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) and circulating tumor cell (CTC)-based liquid biopsies have emerged as potential tools to predict responses to androgen receptor (AR)-directed therapy in metastatic prostate cancer. However, because of complex mechanisms and incomplete understanding of genomic events involved in metastatic prostate cancer resistance, current assays (eg, CTC AR-V7) demonstrate low sensitivity and remain underutilized. The recent discovery of AR enhancer amplification in > 80% of patients with metastatic disease and its association with disease resistance presents an opportunity to improve on current assays. We hypothesized that tracking AR/enhancer genomic alterations in plasma cfDNA would detect resistance with high sensitivity and specificity. PATIENTS AND METHODS We developed a targeted sequencing and analysis method as part of a new assay called Enhancer and Neighboring Loci of Androgen Receptor Sequencing (EnhanceAR-Seq). We applied EnhanceARSeq to plasma collected from 40 patients with metastatic prostate cancer treated with AR-directed therapy to monitor AR/enhancer genomic alterations and correlated these events with therapy resistance, progression-free survival (PFS), and overall survival (OS). RESULTS EnhanceAR-Seq identified genomic alterations in the AR/enhancer locus in 45% of cases, including a 40% rate of AR enhancer amplification. Patients with AR/enhancer alterations had significantly worse PFS and OS than those without (6-month PFS, 30% v 71%; P = .0002; 6-month OS, 59% v 100%; P = .0015). AR/enhancer alterations in plasma cfDNA detected 18 of 23 resistant cases (78%) and outperformed the CTC ARV7 assay, which was also run on a subset of patients. CONCLUSION cfDNA-based AR locus alterations, including of the enhancer, are strongly associated with resistance to AR-directed therapy and significantly worse survival. cfDNA analysis using EnhanceAR-Seq may enable more precise risk stratification and personalized therapeutic approaches for metastatic prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)680-713
Number of pages34
JournalJCO Precision Oncology
StatePublished - 2020

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