BACKGROUND Transcriptome analysis is emerging as emerging as a promising tool to enhance precision of diagnosis and monitoring in solid organ transplantation. Clinical progress has however been hampered by the current reliance on samples from core needle biopsies. This proof-of-principle study examined whether fine needle aspirates, being less invasive, permit the ascertainment of the identical molecular information as core biopsies.
METHODS We collected fine needles aspirates from various needle sizes (G19, 21, 23, 25) and the corresponding core biopsies (G16 needle) of non-tumor tissue of full nephrectomy specimens from patients suffering from clear cell renal cell carcinoma (n = 11). RNA expression patterns of two gene sets (156 genes) were executed using targeted RNA sequencing in samples from fine needle vs. core needle samples. A subgroup of kidneys (n = 6) also underwent whole transcriptome RNA sequencing from core biopsies of tumor and peri-tumoral normal tissue (Tru Seq RNA Access, Illumina).
RESULTS Samples from all needle sizes except two G25 aspirates yielded RNA potentially suitable for sequencing of both gene sets. The mRNA expression patterns of the two gene sets were highly correlated between fine needle aspirates (G23) and corresponding (G16) core biopsies (r = 0.985 and 0.982, respectively). This close correlation was further documented by heat map, Principal Component Analyses (PCA) and whole transcription RNA sequencing. The similarity between fine neddle aspirates and core needle biopsies was additionally confirmed in the subgroup with complete RNA sequencing.
CONCLUSIONS Fine needle biopsies yield similar genomic information to core needle biopsies. The less invasive nature of fine needle biopsies may therefore permit more frequent molecular monitoring and a more targeted use of core needle biopsies in native and especially in transplanted kidneys.