Human urine contains small, 150 to 250 nucleotide-sized, soluble DNA derived from the circulation and may be useful in the detection of colorectal cancer.


Human urine has been shown to possess submicrogram per milliliter amounts of DNA. We show here that DNA isolated from human urine resolves into two size categories: the large species, greater than 1 kb, being predominantly cell associated and heterogeneous in size, and the smaller, between 150 to 250 bp, being mostly non-cell associated. We showed that the low molecular weight class of urine DNA is derived from the circulation, by comparing the mutated K-ras sequences present in DNA isolated from tumor, blood, and urine derived from an individual with a colorectal carcinoma (CRC) containing a mutation in codon 12 of the K-ras proto-oncogene. In the urine, mutated K-ras sequences were abundant in the low molecular weight species, but far less abundant in the large molecular weight-derived DNA. Finally, the possibility that detection of mutant K-ras sequences in DNA derived from the urine correlates with the occurrence of a diagnosis of CRC and polyps that contain mutant K-ras was explored in a blinded study. There was an 83% concurrence of mutated DNA detected in urine and its corresponding disease tissue from the same individuals, when paired urine and tissue sections from 20 subjects with either CRC or adenomatous polyps were analyzed for K-ras mutation. The possibility that the source of the trans renal DNA is apoptotic cells, and the potential use of this finding for cancer detection and monitoring is discussed.

  • Block TM
  • Brenner DE
  • Melkonyan H
  • Ng A
  • Su YH
  • Syngal S
  • Umansky S
  • Wang M
PubMed ID
Appears In
J Mol Diagn, 2004, 6 (2)