INTRODUCTION: Nonendoscopic Barrett's esophagus (BE) screening may help improve esophageal adenocarcinoma outcomes. We previously demonstrated promising accuracy of methylated DNA markers (MDMs) for the nonendoscopic diagnosis of BE using samples obtained from a capsule sponge-on-string (SOS) device. We aimed to assess the accuracy of these MDMs in an independent cohort using a commercial grade assay. METHODS: BE cases had ≥ 1 cm of circumferential BE with intestinal metaplasia; controls had no endoscopic evidence of BE. The SOS device was withdrawn 8 minutes after swallowing, followed by endoscopy (the criterion standard). Highest performing MDMs from a previous study were blindly assessed on extracted bisulfite-converted DNA by target enrichment long-probe quantitative amplified signal (TELQAS) assays. Optimal MDM combinations were selected and analyzed using random forest modeling with in silico cross-validation. RESULTS: Of 295 patients consented, 268 (91%) swallowed the SOS device; 112 cases and 89 controls met the pre-established inclusion criteria. The median BE length was 6 cm (interquartile range 4-9), and 50% had no dysplasia. The cross-validated sensitivity and specificity of a 5 MDM random forest model were 92% (95% confidence interval 85%-96%) and 94% (95% confidence interval 87%-98%), respectively. Model performance was not affected by age, gender, or smoking history but was influenced by the BE segment length. SOS administration was well tolerated (median [interquartile range] tolerability 2 [0, 4] on 10 scale grading), and 95% preferred SOS over endoscopy. DISCUSSION: Using a minimally invasive molecular approach, MDMs assayed from SOS samples show promise as a safe and accurate nonendoscopic test for BE prediction.
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