RT-PCR technique has showed a promising value as pre-screening method for detection of mRNA containing abnormal ALK sequences, but its sensitivity and specificity is still discussable. Previously, we determined the incidence of ALK rearrangement in CNS metastases of NSCLC using IHC and FISH methods.
We evaluated ALK gene rearrangement using two-step RT-PCR method with EML4-ALK Fusion Gene Detection Kit (Entrogen, USA). The studied group included 145 patients (45 females, 100 males) with CNS metastases of NSCLC and was heterogeneous in terms of histology and smoking status.
21% of CNS metastases of NSCLC (30/145) showed presence of mRNA containing abnormal ALK sequences. FISH and IHC tests confirmed the presence of ALK gene rearrangement and expression of ALK abnormal protein in seven patients with positive result of RT-PCR analysis (4.8% of all patients, 20% of RT-PCR positive patients). RT-PCR method compared to FISH analysis achieved 100% of sensitivity and only 82.7% of specificity. IHC method compared to FISH method indicated 100% of sensitivity and 97.8% of specificity. In comparison to IHC, RT-PCR showed identical sensitivity with high number of false positive results.
Utility of RT-PCR technique in screening of ALK abnormalities and in qualification patients for molecularly targeted therapies needs further validation.