Current fecal tests (occult blood, methylation, DNA mutations) target minute amounts of tumor products among a large amount of fecal material and thus have suboptimal performance. Our group has focused on exploiting field carcinogenesis as a modality to amplify the neoplastic signal. Specifically, we have shown that endoscopically normal rectal brushings have striking nano-architectural alterations which are detectable using a novel optical technique, partial wave spectroscopic microscopy (PWS). We therefore wished to translate this approach to a fecal assay. We examined mucus layer fecal colonocytes (MLFC) at preneoplastic and neoplastic time points (confirmed with rat colonoscopy) in the azoxymethane (AOM)-treated rat model and conducted PWS analysis to derive the nano-architectural parameter, disorder strength (Ld). We confirmed these results with studies in a genetic model (the Pirc rat). We showed that MLFC appeared microscopically normal, consistent with field carcinogenesis. Ld was elevated at an early time point (5 weeks post-AOM injection, effect size = 0.40, P = 0.024) and plateaued before adenoma formation (10 weeks post-AOM, effect size = 0.66, P = 0.001), with no dramatic increase once tumors developed. We replicated these data in the preneoplastic Pirc rat with an effect size in the MLFC that replicated the rectal brushings (increase vs. age-matched controls of 62% vs. 74%, respectively). We provide the first demonstration of a biophotonics approach to fecal assay. Furthermore, targeting the nano-architectural changes of field carcinogenesis rather than the detection of tumor products may provide a novel paradigm for colorectal cancer screening.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research