Background and aims: The clinical significance of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and TWIST expression in CTCs remains unelucidated in patients with gastric cancer (GC). Here, we evaluated CTCs and TWIST expression in CTCs and explored their correlation with prognosis in patients with metastatic GC.
Methods: Peripheral blood samples were prospectively obtained from 31 patients with metastatic GC between September 2017 and December 2018, prior to treatment. CTCs were detected using a centrifugal microfluidic system and CTCs positive for TWIST immunostaining were defined as TWIST (+) CTCs.
Results: CTCs and TWIST (+) CTCs were detected in 25 (80.6%) and 24 (77.4%) of the 31 patients, respectively. CTC count in patients with first diagnosis of metastatic cancer tended to be higher than that in those with recurrent metastatic cancer, but TWIST (+) CTC count was not different between the two groups. There was no difference in CTC and TWIST (+) CTC counts according to histopathologic type, peritoneal dissemination, hematogenous metastasis, serum tumor makers, or response to first-line chemotherapy. Patients with CTCs > 7.5/7.5 mL of blood showed shorter overall survival (OS) than those with CTCs ≤ 7.5/7.5 mL of blood (p = 0.049). Additionally, patients with TWIST (+) CTCs > 2.5/7.5 mL of blood tended to show shorter OS than those with TWIST (+) CTCs ≤ 2.5/7.5 mL of blood (p = 0.105).
Conclusions: Our study demonstrated that high levels of CTCs and TWIST (+) CTCs were associated with worse OS.