Purpose: Pancreatic cysts frequently pose clinical dilemmas. On one hand, cysts with high-grade dysplasia offer opportunities for cure, on the other hand, those with low-grade dysplasia are easily over treated. Cyst fluid markers have the potential to improve the evaluation of these cysts. Since telomerase activity is commonly activated in malignant cells, we evaluated the diagnostic performance of cyst fluid telomerase activity measurements for predicting histologic grade. Experimental design: Telomerase activity was measured using telomerase repeat amplification with digital-droplet PCR in surgically-aspirated cyst fluid samples from 219 patients who underwent pancreatic resection for a cystic lesion (184, discovery, 35 validation) and 36 patients who underwent endoscopic ultrasound fine needle aspiration. Methodological and clinical factors associated with telomerase activity were examined. Results: Telomerase activity was reduced in samples that had undergone prior thawing. Among 119 samples not previously thawed, surgical cyst fluids from cystic neoplasms with high-grade dysplasia +/- associated invasive cancer had higher telomerase activity (median [interquartile range], 1158 [295.9-13033] copies/μL of cyst fluid than those without (19.74 [2.58-233.6] copies/μL) (P < 0.001). Elevated cyst fluid telomerase activity had a diagnostic accuracy for invasive cancer/high-grade dysplasia of 88.1% (discovery), 88.6% (validation), and 88.2% (merged). Among cysts classified preoperatively as having "worrisome features", cyst fluid telomerase activity had high diagnostic performance (sensitivity 73.7%, specificity 90.6%, accuracy, 86.1%). In multivariate analysis, telomerase activity independently predicted the presence of invasive cancer/high-grade dysplasia. Conclusion: Cyst fluid telomerase activity can be a useful predictor of the neoplastic grade of pancreatic cysts.
- Received February 4, 2016.
- Revision received April 26, 2016.
- Accepted May 10, 2016.
- Copyright ©2016, American Association for Cancer Research.