Patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) often are treated with drugs that target the androgen receptor (AR) ligand-binding domain. Constitutively active AR splice variant 7 (AR-V7) lacks the ligand-binding domain and, if detected in circulating tumor cells, may be associated with resistance to these agents. We validated an AR-V7 assay in a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)–certified laboratory. Circulating tumor cells were isolated, and mRNA was reverse-transcribed into cDNA. Real-time quantitative PCR amplification of reference transcripts (beta-actin and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase), prostate-specific transcripts (prostate-specific membrane antigen, prostate-specific antigen, and AR-full length), and AR-V7 was performed. Specimens for validation included an AR-V7 expressing prostate cancer (LNCaP95), 38 peripheral blood controls, and 21 blood samples from CRPC patients. The assay detected as few as five LNCaP95 cells spiked into peripheral blood, showing high analytical sensitivity. Multiple inter-run and intrarun replicates of LNCaP95 cell line experiments yielded similar cycle threshold values for all genes, showing high analytical precision (AR-V7 cycle threshold CV of 0.67%). All 38 healthy control samples were negative for AR-V7, showing high diagnostic specificity (100%). The diagnostic accuracy was confirmed by concurrent testing of 21 CRPC samples in the research laboratory and the clinical diagnostic laboratory: concordance in AR-V7 status was achieved in all cases (positive in 4, negative in 17) (100% accuracy). This first validated clinical assay detects the AR-V7 with high analytical sensitivity, precision, specificity, and accuracy.
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© 2017 American Society for Investigative Pathology and the Association for Molecular Pathology