Molecular diagnosis of pancreatobiliary tract cancer by detecting mutations and methylation changes in bile samples

Shun He, Fanxin Zeng, Huihui Yin, Pei Wang, Yinlei Bai, Qianqian Song, Jiangtao Chu, Zhen Huang, Yumeng Liu, Hong Liu, Qichen Chen, Li Liu, Jun Zhou, Hanjie Hu, Xingchen Li, Tengyan Li, Guiqi Wang, Jianqiang Cai, Yuchen Jiao, Hong Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Patients with pancreatobiliary tract cancer usually have a poor clinical outcome, with a 5-year overall survival rate below 20%. This is mainly associated with the late diagnosis. In addition, the standard-of-care for patients with malignant biliary stenosis involves a major surgery, the Whipple procedure. An accurate preoperative diagnosis, including differentiation from benign diseases, is critical to avoid unnecessary treatment. Here we developed BileScreen, a sensitive detection modality for the diagnosis of pancreatobiliary tract cancer based on massively parallel sequencing mutation and methylation changes in bile samples. Methods: A total of 338 patients, from five hospitals in China, with pancreatobiliary system disorders were enrolled in this study between November 2018 and October 2020, and 259 were included for the analysis of BileScreen. We profiled 23 gene mutations and 44 genes with methylation modifications in parallel from bile samples, and set up a model for the detection of malignancy based on multi-level biomarkers. Findings: We applied the BileScreen assay in a training cohort (n = 104) to set up the model and algorithm. The model was further evaluated in a validation cohort (n = 105), resulting in 92% sensitivity and 98% specificity. The performance of BileScreen was further assessed in a prospective test cohort (n = 50) of patients diagnosed with suspicious or negative pathology by endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography and were confirmed in follow-up. BileScreen yielded 90% sensitivity and 80% specificity, and outcompeted serum carbohydrate antigen 19-9 in detecting pancreatobiliary tract cancer in all three cohorts, especially in terms of specificity. Interpretation: Taken together, BileScreen has the ability to interrogate mutations and methylation changes in bile samples in parallel, thus rendering it a potentially sensitive detection method to help in the diagnosis of pancreatobiliary tract cancer in a safe, convenient and less-invasive manner. Funding: This study was supported by the Capital's Funds for Health Improvement and Research (2020-2-4025 to S.H.), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81972311 to H.Z.), CAMS Innovation Fund for Medical Sciences (CIFMS) (2017-12M-4-002 to H.Z.), the CAMS Innovation Fund for Medical Sciences(CIFMS) (2021-I2M-1-066 to CJQ), the Non-profit Central Research Institution Fund of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (2019PT310026 to H.Z.) and Sanming Project of Medicine in Shenzhen (SZSM202011010 to H.Z.).

Original languageEnglish
Article number101736
StatePublished - Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Bile
  • Liquid biopsy
  • Next-generation sequencing
  • Pancreatobiliary tract cancer


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