Circulating BRAFV600E Levels Correlate with Treatment in Patients with Thyroid Carcinoma

Carrie C. Lubitz, Tiannan Zhan, Viswanath Gunda, Salma Amin, Benjamin J. Gigliotti, Abbey L. Fingeret, Tammy M. Holm, Heather Wachtel, Peter M. Sadow, Lori J. Wirth, Ryan J. Sullivan, David J. Panka, Sareh Parangi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: BRAFV600E is the most common mutation in papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) and can be associated with aggressive disease. Previously, a highly sensitive blood RNA-based BRAFV600E assay was reported. The objective of this study was to assess the correlation of BRAFV600E circulating tumor RNA levels with surgical and medical treatment. Methods: Circulating BRAFV600E levels were assessed in (i) a murine model of undifferentiated (anaplastic) thyroid carcinoma with known BRAFV600E mutation undergoing BRAFV600E-inhibitor (BRAFi) treatment, and (ii) in 111 patients enrolled prior to thyroidectomy (n = 86) or treatment of advanced recurrent or metastatic PTC (n = 25). Blood samples were drawn for BRAFV600E analysis before and after treatment. Testing characteristics were assessed and positivity criteria optimized. Changes in blood BRAFV600E values were assessed and compared to clinical characteristics and response to therapy. Results: In a murine model of anaplastic thyroid carcinoma with BRAFV600E mutation, blood BRAFV600E RNA correlated with tumor volume in animals treated with BRAFi. In tissue BRAFV600E-positive (n = 36) patients undergoing initial surgery for PTC, blood BRAFV600E levels declined postoperatively (median 370.0-178.5 fg/ng; p = 0.002). In four patients with metastatic or poorly differentiated thyroid carcinoma receiving targeted therapies, blood BRAFV600E declined following therapy and corresponded with radiographic evidence of partial response or stable disease. Conclusions: This study shows the correlation of blood BRAFV600E levels in response to treatment in both an established animal model of thyroid cancer and in patients with BRAFV600E-positive tumors with all stages of disease. This assay represents an alternative biomarker in patients with positive thyroglobulin antibodies, and tumors, which do not express thyroglobulin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-339
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • biomarker
  • circulation tumor cells
  • papillary thyroid cancer
  • thyroid cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology

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