DOI: 10.1002/ctm2.1393 ISSN:

Small extrachromosomal circular DNAs as biomarkers for multi‐cancer diagnosis and monitoring

Xuanmei Luo, Lili Zhang, Jian Cui, Qi An, Hexin Li, Zaifeng Zhang, Gaoyuan Sun, Wei Huang, Yifei Li, Chang Li, Wenzhuo Jia, Lihui Zou, Gang Zhao, Fei Xiao
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)



Small extrachromosomal circular DNAs (eccDNAs) have the potential to be cancer biomarkers. However, the formation mechanisms and functions of small eccDNAs selected in carcinogenesis are not clear, and whether the small eccDNA profile in the plasma of cancer patients represents that in cancer tissues remains to be elucidated.


A novel sequencing workflow based on the nanopore sequencing platform was used to sequence naturally existing full‐length small eccDNAs in tissues and plasma collected from 25 cancer patients (including prostate cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma and colorectal cancer), and from an independent validation cohort (including 7 cancer plasma and 14 healthy plasma).


Compared with those in non‐cancer tissues, small eccDNAs detected in cancer tissues had a significantly larger number and size (P = 0.040 and 2.2e‐16, respectively), along with more even distribution and different formation mechanisms. Although small eccDNAs had different general characteristics and genomic annotation between cancer tissues and the paired plasma, they had similar formation mechanisms and cancer‐related functions. Small eccDNAs originated from some specific genes had great multi‐cancer diagnostic value in tissues (AUC ≥ 0.8) and plasma (AUC > 0.9), especially increasing the accuracy of multi‐cancer prediction of CEA/CA19‐9 levels. The high multi‐cancer diagnostic value of small eccDNAs originated from ALK&ETV6 could be extrapolated from tissues (AUC = 0.804) to plasma and showed high positive predictive value (100%) and negative predictive value (82.35%) in a validation cohort.


As independent and stable circular DNA molecules, small eccDNAs in both tissues and plasma can be used as ideal biomarkers for cost‐effective multi‐cancer diagnosis and monitoring.

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