Measuring antigen expression of cancer cell lines and circulating tumour cells

Anouk Mentink, Khrystany T. Isebia, Jaco Kraan, Leon W.M.M. Terstappen, Michiel Stevens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


When evaluating EpCAM-based enrichment technologies for circulating tumour cells (CTCs), the cell lines used should closely resemble real CTCs, meaning the EpCAM expression of CTCs needs to be known, but also the EpCAM expression of cell lines at different institutions and times is important. As the number of CTCs in the blood is low, we enriched CTCs through the depletion of leukocytes from diagnostic leukapheresis products of 13 prostate cancer patients and measured EpCAM expression using quantitative flow cytometry. Antigen expression was compared between multiple institutions by measuring cultures from each institution. Capture efficiency was also measured for one of the used cell lines. Results show CTCs derived from castration-sensitive prostate cancer patients have varying but relatively low EpCAM expression, with median expression per patient ranging from 35 to 89,534 (mean 24,993) molecules per cell. A large variation in the antigen expression of identical cell lines cultured at different institutions was found, resulting in recoveries when using the CellSearch system ranging from 12 up to 83% for the same cell line. We conclude that large differences in capture efficiency can occur while using the same cell line. To closely resemble real CTCs from castration-sensitive prostate cancer patients, a cell line with a relatively low EpCAM expression should be used, and its expression should be monitored frequently.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6051
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Early online date13 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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