Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is an aggressive disease that lacks effective biomarkers for early detection. We hypothesized that circulating long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) may act as diagnostic markers of incidentally-detected cystic PDAC precursors known as intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs) and predictors of their pathology/histological classification. Using NanoString nCounter® technology, we measured the abundance of 28 candidate lncRNAs in pre-operative plasma from a cohort of pathologically-confirmed IPMN cases of various grades of severity and non-diseased controls. Results showed that two lncRNAs (GAS5 and SRA) aided in differentiating IPMNs from controls. An 8-lncRNA signature (including ADARB2-AS1, ANRIL, GLIS3-AS1, LINC00472, MEG3, PANDA, PVT1, and UCA1) had greater accuracy than standard clinical and radiologic features in distinguishing ‘aggressive/malignant’ IPMNs that warrant surgical removal from ‘indolent/benign’ IPMNs that can be observed. When the 8-lncRNA signature was combined with plasma miRNA data and quantitative ‘radiomic’ imaging features, the accuracy of predicting IPMN pathological classification improved. Our findings provide novel information on the ability to detect lncRNAs in plasma from patients with IPMNs and suggest that an lncRNA-based blood test may have utility as a diagnostic adjunct for identifying IPMNs and their pathology, especially when incorporated with biomarkers such as miRNAs, quantitative imaging features, and clinical data.
ASJC Scopus subject areas