Purpose: Current glioma diagnostic guidelines call for molecular profiling to stratify patients into prognostic and treatment subgroups. In case the tumor tissue is inaccessible, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) has been proposed as a reliable tumor DNA source for liquid biopsy. We prospectively investigated the use of CSF for molecular characterization of newly diagnosed gliomas. Experimental design: We recruited two cohorts of newly diagnosed glioma patients, one (n=45) providing CSF collected in proximity of the tumor, the other (n=39) CSF collected by lumbar puncture. Both cohorts provided tumor tissues by surgery concomitant with CSF sampling. DNA samples retrieved from CSF and matched tumors were systematically characterized and compared by comprehensive (NGS) or targeted (ddPCR) methodologies. Conventional and molecular diagnosis outcomes were compared. Results: We report that tumor DNA is abundant in CSF close to the tumor, but scanty and mostly below NGS sensitivity threshold in CSF from lumbar puncture. Indeed, tumor DNA is 15 mostly released by cells invading liquoral spaces, generating a gradient that attenuates by departing from the tumor. Nevertheless, in >60% of lumbar puncture CSF samples, tumor DNA is sufficient to assess a selected panel of genetic alterations (IDH and TERT promoter mutations, EGFR amplification, CDKN2A/B deletion: ITEC protocol) and MGMT methylation that, combined with imaging, enable tissue-agnostic identification of main glioma molecular subtypes. Conclusions: This study shows potentialities and limitations of CSF liquid biopsy in achieving molecular characterization of gliomas at first clinical presentation and proposes a protocol to maximize diagnostic information retrievable from CSF DNA.
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