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Keywords:

  • biophysical biomarkers;
  • single-cell analysis;
  • elasticity;
  • adhesion;
  • deformability

BACKGROUND

Emerging evidence shows that nanomechanical phenotypes of circulating tumor cells (CTC) could become potential biomarkers for metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC).

METHODS

To determine the nanomechanical phenotypes of CTCs we applied atomic force microscopy (AFM) employing the PeakForce quantitative nanomechanical (QNM) imaging. We assessed biophysical parameters (elasticity, deformation, and adhesion) of 130 CTCs isolated from blood samples from five castration sensitive (CS) and 12 castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPCa) patients.

RESULTS

We found that CTCs from CRPCa patients are three times softer, three times more deformable, and seven times more adhesive than counterparts from CSPCa patients. Both nonsupervised hierarchical clustering and principle component analysis show that three combined nanomechanical parameters could constitute a valuable set to distinguish between CSPCa and CRPCa.

CONLUSIONS

Our study indicates that nanomechanical phenotypes of CTCs may serve as novel and effective biomarkers for mCRPC. Prostate 74: 1297–1307, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.