Relationship between circulating tumour DNA and skeletal muscle stores at diagnosis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma: a cross-sectional study

Lauren Hanna (Leading Author), Rav Sellahewa, Catherine E. Huggins, Joanne Lundy, Daniel Croagh (Leading Author)

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Low skeletal muscle index (SMI) and low skeletal muscle radiodensity (SMD) are associated with reduced survival time in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). The negative prognostic impact of low SMI and low SMD is often reported as independent of cancer stage when using traditional clinical staging tools. Therefore, this study sought to explore the relationship between a novel marker of tumour burden (circulating tumour DNA) and skeletal muscle abnormalities at diagnosis of PDAC. A retrospective cross-sectional study was conducted in patients who had plasma and tumour tissue samples stored in the Victorian Pancreatic Cancer Biobank (VPCB) at diagnosis of PDAC, between 2015 and 2020. Circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) of patients with G12 and G13 KRAS mutations was detected and quantified. Pre-treatment SMI and SMD derived from analysis of diagnostic computed tomography imaging was tested for its association to presence and concentration of ctDNA, as well as conventional staging, and demographic variables. The study included 66 patients at PDAC diagnosis; 53% female, mean age 68.7 years (SD ± 10.9). Low SMI and low SMD were present in 69.7% and 62.1% of patients, respectively. Female gender was an independent risk factor for low SMI (OR 4.38, 95% CI 1.23–15.55, p = 0.022), and older age an independent risk factor for low SMD (OR 1.066, 95% CI 1.002–1.135, p = 0.044). No association between skeletal muscle stores and concentration of ctDNA (SMI r = − 0.163, p = 0.192; SMD r = 0.097, p = 0.438) or stage of disease according to conventional clinical staging [SMI F(3, 62) = 0.886, p = 0.453; SMD F(3, 62) = 0.717, p = 0.545] was observed. These results demonstrate that low SMI and low SMD are highly prevalent at diagnosis of PDAC, and suggest they are comorbidities of cancer rather than related to the clinical stage of disease. Future studies are needed to identify the mechanisms and risk factors for low SMI and low SMD at diagnosis of PDAC to aid screening and intervention development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9663
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2023

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