1. Department of Urology, Shandong Provincial Hospital Affiliated to Shandong University, No. 324 Jingwu Road, Huaiyin District, Jinan, Shandong, 250021, China.
2. Department of Anesthesiology, Shandong Provincial Hospital Affiliated to Shandong University, No. 324 Jingwu Road, Huaiyin District, Jinan, Shandong, 250021, China.
*Both authors contributed equally to this work.
Liquid biopsy is becoming a promising method for non-invasive cancer detection. In several proof-of-concept studies, long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) were found to be potential biomarkers for bladder cancer detection. The objective of this study was to discover a panel of cell-free, urinary lncRNAs as liquid biopsy biomarkers to non-invasively differentiate bladder cancer from chronic urocystitis. To this end, we collected urine samples from both bladder cancer patients and urocystitis patients. These samples were divided into discovery group and validation group. In the discovery group, the expression levels of 16 cell-free urinary lncRNAs were measured by qPCR to discover candidate biomarkers. The diagnostic performance of the candidate lncRNA biomarkers was then evaluated, which led to a panel of lncRNA biomarkers for bladder cancer detection. The performance of this panel of biomarkers was further evaluated in the validation group to see if these lncRNA biomarkers could discriminate the bladder cancer patients from urocystitis patients. We found that all of the 16 lncRNAs evaluated in this study demonstrated significant difference (p<0.05) of expression between bladder cancer patients and urocystitis patients. Nine lncRNAs provided decent diagnostic performance with area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve (AUC) reaching 0.70 or higher. We then selected the top four lncRNAs, namely UCA1-201, HOTAIR, HYMA1 and MALAT1, to form a panel of urinary biomarkers. Using this panel, bladder cancer patients could be discriminated from urocystitis patients, with sensitivity and specificity reaching 95.7% and 94.3%, respectively. Finally, we confirmed the applicability of the four-lncRNA panel in an independent validation study that included 60 bladder cancer patients and 60 urocystitis patients. Our study paves the way for further studies aimed at large-scale clinical tests of developing lncRNA biomarkers in urine for bladder cancer diagnostics.
Keywords: Biomarker, NMIBC, urocystitis, non-coding RNA, expression.