Circulating Cell-Free DNA and RNA Analysis as Liquid Biopsy: Optimal Centrifugation Protocol.


Center for Oncological Research Antwerp (CORE), University of Antwerp (UAntwerp), 2610 Wilrijk, Belgium. [Email]


The combined analysis of circulating cell-free (tumor) DNA (cfDNA/ctDNA) and circulating cell-free (tumor) RNA (cfRNA/ctRNA) shows great promise in determining the molecular profile of cancer patients. Optimization of the workflow is necessary to achieve consistent and reproducible results. In this study, we compared five centrifugation protocols for the optimal yield of both cfDNA/ctDNA and cfRNA/ctRNA. These protocols varied in centrifugation speed, ambient temperature, time, and number of centrifugation steps. Samples from 33 participants were collected in either BD Vacutainer K₂EDTA (EDTA) tubes or cell-free DNA BCT® (Streck) tubes. cfDNA concentration and fragment size, and cfRNA concentration were quantitated in all samples by digital droplet PCR (ddPCR) and quantitative PCR (qPCR). The KRAS-mutated ctDNA and ctRNA fraction was determined via ddPCR. In EDTA tubes, the protocol generating both plasma and platelets was found to produce high quality cfDNA and cfRNA concentrations. Two-step, high-speed centrifugation protocols were associated with high cfDNA but low cfRNA concentrations. High cfRNA concentrations were generated by a one-step, low-speed protocol. However, this coincided with a high amount of genomic DNA (gDNA) contamination. In Streck tubes, two-step, high-speed centrifugation protocols also generated good quality, high cfDNA concentration. However, these tubes are not compatible with cfRNA analysis.


cell-free DNA,cell-free RNA,centrifugation protocol,ddPCR,liquid biopsy,