The origin of tumor DNA in urine of urogenital cancer patients: Local shedding and transrenal excretion

Anouk E. Hentschel, Rianne van den Helder, Nienke E. van Trommel, Annina P. van Splunter, Robert A.A. van Boerdonk, Mignon D.J.M. van Gent, Jakko A. Nieuwenhuijzen, Renske D.M. Steenbergen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


In urogenital cancers, urine as a liquid biopsy for non-invasive cancer detection holds great promise for future clinical application. Their anatomical position allows for the local shedding of tumor DNA, but recent data indicate that tumor DNA in urine might also result from transrenal excretion. This study aims to assess the origin of tumor-associated DNA in the urine of 5 bladder and 25 cervical cancer patients. Besides natural voided urine, paired urine samples were collected in which contact with the local tumor was circumvented to bypass local shedding. The latter concerned nephrostomy urine in bladder cancer patients, and catheter urine in cervical cancer patients. Methylation levels of GHSR, SST, and ZIC1 were determined using paired bladder tumor tissues and cervical scrapes as a reference. Urinary methylation levels were compared to natural voided urine of matched controls. To support methylation results, mutation analysis was performed in urine and tissue samples of bladder cancer patients. Increased methylation levels were not only found in natural voided urine from bladder and cervical cancer patients, but also in the corresponding nephrostomy and catheter urine. DNA mutations detected in bladder tumor tissues were also detectable in all paired natural voided urine as well as in a subset of nephrostomy urine. These results provide the first evidence that the suitability of urine as a liquid biopsy for urogenital cancers relies both on the local shedding of tumor cells and cell fragments, as well as the transrenal excretion of tumor DNA into the urine.

Original languageEnglish
Article number535
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • Biomarkers
  • Liquid biopsy
  • Methylation
  • Molecular diagnostics
  • Mutation
  • Urine
  • Urogenital neoplasms

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