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1.  Promoter methylation of RASSF1A and DAPK and mutations of K-ras, p53, and EGFR in lung tumors from smokers and never-smokers 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:74.
Epidemiological studies indicate that some characteristics of lung cancer among never-smokers significantly differ from those of smokers. Aberrant promoter methylation and mutations in some oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes are frequent in lung tumors from smokers but rare in those from never-smokers. In this study, we analyzed promoter methylation in the ras-association domain isoform A (RASSF1A) and the death-associated protein kinase (DAPK) genes in lung tumors from patients with primarily non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) from the Western Pennsylvania region. We compare the results with the smoking status of the patients and the mutation status of the K-ras, p53, and EGFR genes determined previously on these same lung tumors.
Promoter methylation of the RASSF1A and DAPK genes was analyzed by using a modified two-stage methylation-specific PCR. Data on mutations of K-ras, p53, and EGFR were obtained from our previous studies.
The RASSF1A gene promoter methylation was found in tumors from 46.7% (57/122) of the patients and was not significantly different between smokers and never-smokers, but was associated significantly in multiple variable analysis with tumor histology (p = 0.031) and marginally with tumor stage (p = 0.063). The DAPK gene promoter methylation frequency in these tumors was 32.8% (40/122) and did not differ according to the patients' smoking status, tumor histology, or tumor stage. Multivariate analysis adjusted for age, gender, smoking status, tumor histology and stage showed that the frequency of promoter methylation of the RASSF1A or DAPK genes did not correlate with the frequency of mutations of the K-ras, p53, and EGFR gene.
Our results showed that RASSF1A and DAPK genes' promoter methylation occurred frequently in lung tumors, although the prevalence of this alteration in these genes was not associated with the smoking status of the patients or the occurrence of mutations in the K-ras, p53 and EGFR genes, suggesting each of these events may represent independent event in non-small lung tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC1877812  PMID: 17477876
2.  Aberrant promoter methylation of multiple genes in sputum from individuals exposed to smoky coal emissions 
Anticancer research  2008;28(4B):2061-2066.
Aberrant methylation in the promoter region of cancer-related genes leads to gene transcriptional inactivation and plays an integral role in lung tumorigenesis. Recent studies demonstrated that promoter methylation was detected not only in lung tumors from patients with lung cancer but also in sputum of smokers without the disease, suggesting the potential for aberrant gene promoter methylation in sputum as a predictive marker for lung cancer. In the present study, we investigated promoter methylation of 4 genes frequently detected in lung tumors, including p16, MGMT, RASSF1A and DAPK genes, in sputum samples obtained from 107 individuals, including 34 never-smoking females and 73 mostly smoking males, who had no evidence of lung cancer but who were exposed to smoky coal emission in Xuan Wei County, China, where lung cancer rate is more than 6 times the Chinese national average rate. Forty nine of the individuals showed evidence of chronic bronchitis while the remaining 58 individuals showed no such a symptom. Promoter methylation of p16, MGMT, RASSF1A and DAPK was detected in 51.4% (55/107), 17.8% (19/107), 29.9% (32/107), and 15.9% (17/107) of the sputum samples from these individuals, respectively. There were no differences in promoter methylation frequencies of any of these genes according to smoking status or gender of the subjects or between individuals with chronic bronchitis and those without evidence of such a symptom. Therefore, individuals exposed to smoky coal emissions in this region harbored in their sputum frequent promoter methylation of these genes that have been previously found in lung tumors and implicated in lung cancer development.
PMCID: PMC2974317  PMID: 18751376
Smoky coal emissions; Gene promoter methylation; Lung cancer
3.  Aberrant promoter methylation of CDH13 and MGMT genes is associated with clinicopathological characteristics of primary non small cell lung carcinoma 
Clinical Lung Cancer  2011;13(4):297-303.
Systemic methylation changes may be a diagnostic marker for tumor development or prognosis. Here, we investigate the relationship between gene methylation in lung tumors relative to normal lung tissue, and whether DNA methylation changes can be detected in paired blood samples.
Material and methods
Sixty five patients were enrolled in a surgical case series of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) at a single institution. Using bisulfite pyrosequencing, CpG methylation was quantified at five genes (RASSF1A, CDH13, MGMT, ESR1 and DAPK) in lung tumor, pathologically normal lung tissue, and circulating blood from enrolled cases.
The analyses of methylation in tumors compared to normal lung tissue identified higher methylation of CDH13, RASSF1A, and DAPK genes, while ESR1 and MGMT methylation did not differ significantly between these tissue types. We then examined whether the three aberrantly methylated genes could be detected in blood. The difference in methylation observed in tumors was not reflected in methylation status of matching blood samples, indicating a low feasibility of detecting lung cancer by analyzing these genes in a blood-based test. Lastly we probed whether tumor methylation was associatied with clinical and demographic characteristics. Histology and gender were associated with methylation at the CDH13 gene, while stage was associated with methylation at MGMT.
Our results show higher methylation of RASSF1A, CDH13, and DAPK genes in lung tumors compared to normal lung. The lack of reflection of these methylation changes in blood samples from patients with NSCLC indicate their poorly suitability for a screening test.
PMCID: PMC3346856  PMID: 22169480
methylation; non-small cell lung cancer; CDH13; MGMT; clinicopathological characteristics
4.  RUNX3 Methylation reveals that Bladder Tumors are Older in Patients with a History of Smoking 
Cancer research  2008;68(15):6208-6214.
Exposure to tobacco smoke is associated with increased DNA methylation at certain genes in both lung and bladder tumors. We sought to identify interactions in bladder cancer between DNA methylation and a history of smoking, along with any possible effect of aging. We measured DNA methylation in 342 transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) tumors at BCL2, PTGS2 (COX2), DAPK, CDH1 (ECAD), EDNRB, RASSF1A, RUNX3, TERT, and TIMP3. The prevalence of methylation at RUNX3, a polycomb target gene, increased as a function of age at diagnosis (p=0.031) and a history of smoking (p=0.015). RUNX3 methylation also preceded methylation at the other 8 genes (p<0.001). It has been proposed that DNA methylation patterns constitute a “molecular clock” and can be used to determine the “age” of normal tissues, i.e., the number of times the cells have divided. Since RUNX3 methylation increases with age, is not present in normal urothelium, and occurs early in tumorigenesis, it can be used for the first time as a molecular clock in order to determine the age of a bladder tumor. Doing so reveals that tumors from smokers are “older” than tumors from nonsmokers (p=0.009) either due to tumors in smokers initiating earlier or undergoing more rapid cell divisions. Since RUNX3 methylation is acquired early on in tumorigenesis then its detection in biopsy or urine specimens could provide a marker to screen cigarette smokers long before any symptoms of bladder cancer are present.
PMCID: PMC2536768  PMID: 18676844
RUNX3; methylation; bladder cancer; tobacco smoking; age
5.  Distinct DNA methylation epigenotypes in bladder cancer from different Chinese sub-populations and its implication in cancer detection using voided urine 
BMC Medical Genomics  2011;4:45.
Bladder cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the world and the incidence is particularly high in southwestern Taiwan. Previous studies have identified several tumor-related genes that are hypermethylated in bladder cancer; however the DNA methylation profile of bladder cancer in Taiwan is not fully understood.
In this study, we compared the DNA methylation profile of multiple tumor suppressor genes (APC, DAPK, E-cadherin, hMLH1, IRF8, p14, p15, RASSF1A, SFRP1 and SOCS-1) in bladder cancer patients from different Chinese sub-populations including Taiwan (104 cases), Hong Kong (82 cases) and China (24 cases) by MSP. Two normal human urothelium were also included as control. To investigate the diagnostic potential of using DNA methylation in non-invasive detection of bladder cancer, degree of methylation of DAPK, IRF8, p14, RASSF1A and SFRP1 was also accessed by quantitative MSP in urine samples from thirty bladder cancer patients and nineteen non-cancer controls.
There were distinct DNA methylation epigenotypes among the different sub-populations. Further, samples from Taiwan and China demonstrated a bimodal distribution suggesting that CpG island methylator phentotype (CIMP) is presented in bladder cancer. Moreover, the number of methylated genes in samples from Taiwan and Hong Kong were significantly correlated with histological grade (P < 0.01) and pathological stage (P < 0.01). Regarding the samples from Taiwan, methylation of SFRP1, IRF8, APC and RASSF1A were significantly associated with increased tumor grade, stage. Methylation of RASSF1A was associated with tumor recurrence. Patients with methylation of APC or RASSF1A were also significantly associated with shorter recurrence-free survival. For methylation detection in voided urine samples of cancer patients, the sensitivity and specificity of using any of the methylated genes (IRF8, p14 or sFRP1) by qMSP was 86.7% and 94.7%.
Our results indicate that there are distinct methylation epigenotypes among different Chinese sub-populations. These profiles demonstrate gradual increases with cancer progression. Finally, detection of gene methylation in voided urine with these distinct DNA methylation markers is more sensitive than urine cytology.
PMCID: PMC3127971  PMID: 21599969
6.  Hypermethylation of p16 and DAPK promoter gene regions in patients with non-invasive urinary bladder cancer 
The aim of the study was to examine the frequency of methylation status in promoter regions of p16 and DAPK genes in patients with non-invasive bladder cancer.
Material and methods
Forty-two patients (92.9% men, 73.8% smokers, 71.4% T1G1, 19.1% T1G2, 9.5% T1G3) and 36 healthy controls were studied. Isolation of genomic DNA from blood serum and methylation-specific PCR (MSP) were applied. Methylation status – methylated and unmethylated promoter regions of p16 and DAPK genes were analysed.
Seventeen out of 42 patients (40.5%) had the methylated p16 gene, while methylation of the DAPK gene was seen in 27 of 42 cases (64.3%). In 12 patients (28.6%) both analysed genes were methylated. A statistically significant (p = 0.046) higher frequency of DAPK gene methylation (71.4%) was observed in patients with lower grade (G1) bladder cancer.
Detection of the aberrant hypermethylation of DAPK and p16 genes in blood DNA from non-invasive bladder cancer patients might offer an effective means for earlier auxiliary diagnosis of the malignancy.
PMCID: PMC3258754  PMID: 22295037
non-invasive bladder cancer; DAPK; p16; hypermethylation; methylation-specific PCR
7.  Combined effects of cigarette smoking, gene polymorphisms and methylations of tumor suppressor genes on non small cell lung cancer: a hospital-based case-control study in China 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:422.
Cigarette smoking is the most established risk factor, and genetic variants and/or gene promoter methylations are also considered to play an essential role in development of lung cancer, but the pathogenesis of lung cancer is still unclear.
We collected the data of 150 cases and 150 age-matched and sex-matched controls on a Hospital-Based Case-Control Study in China. Face to face interviews were conducted using a standardized questionnaire. Gene polymorphism and methylation status were measured by RFLP-PCR and MSP, respectively. Logistic regressive model was used to estimate the odds ratios (OR) for different levels of exposure.
After adjusted age and other potential confounding factors, smoking was still main risk factor and significantly increased 3.70-fold greater risk of NSCLC as compared with nonsmokers, and the ORs across increasing levels of pack years were 1, 3.54, 3.65 and 7.76, which the general dose-response trend was confirmed. Our striking findings were that the risk increased 5.16, 8.28 and 4.10-fold, respectively, for NSCLC with promoter hypermethylation of the p16, DAPK or RARβ gene in smokers with CYP1A1 variants, and the higher risk significantly increased in smokers with null GSTM1 and the OR was 17.84 for NSCLC with p16 promoter hypermethylation, 17.41 for DAPK, and 8.18 for RARβ in smokers with null GSTM1 compared with controls (all p < 0.01).
Our study suggests the strong combined effects of cigarette smoke, CYP1A1 and GSTM1 Polymorphisms, hypermethylations of p16, DAPK and RARβ promoters in NSCLC, implying complex pathogenesis of NSCLC should be given top priority in future research.
PMCID: PMC3087325  PMID: 20704749
8.  Methylation profiles of thirty four promoter-CpG islands and concordant methylation behaviours of sixteen genes that may contribute to carcinogenesis of astrocytoma 
BMC Cancer  2004;4:65.
Astrocytoma is a common aggressive intracranial tumor and presents a formidable challenge in the clinic. Association of altered DNA methylation patterns of the promoter CpG islands with the expression profile of cancer-related genes, has been found in many human tumors. Therefore, DNA methylation status as such may serve as an epigenetic biomarker for both diagnosis and prognosis of human tumors, including astrocytoma.
We used the methylation specific PCR in conjunction with sequencing verification to establish the methylation profile of the promoter CpG island of thirty four genes in astrocytoma tissues from fifty three patients (The WHO grading:. I: 14, II: 15, III: 12 and IV: 12 cases, respectively). In addition, compatible tissues (normal tissues distant from lesion) from three non-astrocytoma patients were included as the control.
Seventeen genes (ABL, APC, APAF1, BRCA1, CSPG2, DAPK1, hMLH1, LKB1, PTEN, p14ARF, p15INK4b, p27KIP1, p57KIP2, RASSF1C, RB1, SURVIVIN, and VHL) displayed a uniformly unmethylated pattern in all the astrocytoma and non-astrocytoma tissues examined. However, the MAGEA1 gene that was inactivated and hypermethylated in non-astrocytoma tissues, was partially demethylated in 24.5% of the astrocytoma tissues (co-existence of the hypermethylated and demethylated alleles). Of the astrocytoma associated hypermethylated genes, the methylation pattern of the CDH13, cyclin a1, DBCCR1, EPO, MYOD1, and p16INK4a genes changed in no more than 5.66% (3/53) of astrocytoma tissues compared to non-astrocytoma controls, while the RASSF1A, p73, AR, MGMT, CDH1, OCT6,, MT1A, WT1, and IRF7 genes were more frequently hypermethylated in 69.8%, 47.2%, 41.5%, 35.8%, 32%, 30.2%, 30.2%, 30.2% and 26.4% of astrocytoma tissues, respectively. Demethylation mediated inducible expression of the CDH13, MAGEA1, MGMT, p73 and RASSF1A genes was established in an astrocytoma cell line (U251), demonstrating that expression of these genes is likely regulated by DNA methylation. AR gene hypermethylation was found exclusively in female patients (22/27, 81%, 0/26, 0%, P < 0.001), while the IRF7 gene hypermethylation preferentially occurred in the male counterparts (11/26, 42.3% to 3/27, 11%, P < 0.05). Applying the mathematic method "the Discovery of Association Rules", we have identified groups consisting of up to three genes that more likely display the altered methylation patterns in concert in astrocytoma.
Of the thirty four genes examined, sixteen genes exhibited astrocytoma associated changes in the methylation profile. In addition to the possible pathological significance, the established concordant methylation profiles of the subsets consisting of two to three target genes may provide useful clues to the development of the useful prognostic as well as diagnostic assays for astrocytoma.
PMCID: PMC520749  PMID: 15367334
9.  Tumor necrosis factor alpha as a marker of systemic and local inflammation in “healthy” smokers 
Tobacco smoking induces a local and systemic inflammatory reaction and also a decline in pulmonary function. There are some novel noninvasive methods to measure the degree of inflammatory bronchial reaction, including the exhaled breath condensate (EBC) in which several inflammatory markers can be measured, including tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α). There is a clear clinical need to develop methods that allow early detection of smokers at risk of losing pulmonary function.
The aims of the present study are: 1) to show that smokers show higher levels of TNF-α both in serum and EBC; 2) to analyze the possible influence of gender, age, and weight on this parameter; and 3) to determine a possible association between smoking and pulmonary function parameters and TNF-α levels.
Material and methods
We have prospectively analyzed two cohorts of smokers and non-smokers subjects without any chronic or acute disease (within eight weeks of study initiation). We have performed pulmonary function tests with bronchodilators and also collected EBC and blood samples before smoking cessation. Statistical analysis was performed with SPSS 11.0 for Windows Statistical Package.
The study has enrolled 17 patients (8 smokers), 50% of whom were females. Mean age was 38.59 years old (standard deviation, 7.4). The mean number of cigarettes smoked in the smoker group was 26.14 (11.29) cigarettes/day and the mean age when tobacco first began was 15.14 (2.04) years. We have not been able to show any significant differences in TNF-α levels according to age or weight. For the whole series we have not found any significant influence of gender in TNF-α levels, but after dividing the series in smokers and nonsmokers, we have shown higher levels of TNF-α in serum (5.59 [0.26] pg/mL vs 5.56 [0.37] pg/mL; nonsignificant [NS]) and EBC (4.94 [0.41] pg/mL vs 4.22 [0.36] pg/mL; p = 0.031) in male smokers. On the other hand, nonsmoking females showed slightly higher TNF-α levels in serum (5.70 [0.50] pg/mL vs 5.42 [0.29] pg/mL; NS) and EBC (4.54 [0.92] vs 4.11 [0.41 pg/mL]; NS). Smokers had higher TNF-α levels in EBC (4.46 [0.58] pg/mL vs 4.34 [0.62] pg/mL; NS), while serum TNF-α levels were slightly higher in nonsmokers (5.52 [0.56] pg/mL vs 5.50 [0.27] pg/mL; NS). We have not demonstrated any association between tobacco consumption and TNF-α levels. We have not shown any significant relation between pulmonary function and the studied parameters, with only a modest association between forced expiratory volume at one second and forced vital capacity and TNF-α levels in EBC.
Smokers show higher TNF-α levels in EBC. Among smokers, males show higher levels of TNF in serum and EBC. We have not confirmed any significant influence of age or weight on TNF-α levels. These levels do not seem to be influenced either by the amount of tobacco or the time since habit began. We have shown a modest relation between pulmonary function and TNF-α levels in EBC.
PMCID: PMC2840575  PMID: 20360881
inflammatory markers; tumor necrosis factor; exhaled breath condensate; cigarette smoking
10.  Methylation-associated down-regulation of RASSF1A and up-regulation of RASSF1C in pancreatic endocrine tumors 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:351.
RASSF1A gene silencing by DNA methylation has been suggested as a major event in pancreatic endocrine tumor (PET) but RASSF1A expression has never been studied. The RASSF1 locus contains two CpG islands (A and C) and generates seven transcripts (RASSF1A-RASSF1G) by differential promoter usage and alternative splicing.
We studied 20 primary PETs, their matched normal pancreas and three PET cell lines for the (i) methylation status of the RASSF1 CpG islands using methylation-specific PCR and pyrosequencing and (ii) expression of RASSF1 isoforms by quantitative RT-PCR in 13 cases. CpG island A methylation was evaluated by methylation-specific PCR (MSP) and by quantitative methylation-specific PCR (qMSP); pyrosequencing was applied to quantify the methylation of 51 CpGs also encompassing those explored by MSP and qMSP approaches.
MSP detected methylation in 16/20 (80%) PETs and 13/20 (65%) normal pancreas. At qMSP, 11/20 PETs (55%) and 9/20 (45%) normals were methylated in at least 20% of RASSF1A alleles.
Pyrosequencing showed variable distribution and levels of methylation within and among samples, with PETs having average methylation higher than normals in 15/20 (75%) cases (P = 0.01). The evaluation of mRNA expression of RASSF1 variants showed that: i) RASSF1A was always expressed in PET and normal tissues, but it was, on average, expressed 6.8 times less in PET (P = 0.003); ii) RASSF1A methylation inversely correlated with its expression; iii) RASSF1 isoforms were rarely found, except for RASSF1B that was always expressed and RASSF1C whose expression was 11.4 times higher in PET than in normal tissue (P = 0.001). A correlation between RASSF1A expression and gene methylation was found in two of the three PET cell lines, which also showed a significant increase in RASSF1A expression upon demethylating treatment.
RASSF1A gene methylation in PET is higher than normal pancreas in no more than 75% of cases and as such it cannot be considered a marker for this neoplasm. RASSF1A is always expressed in PET and normal pancreas and its levels are inversely correlated with gene methylation. Isoform RASSF1C is overexpressed in PET and the recent demonstration of its involvement in the regulation of the Wnt pathway points to a potential pathogenetic role in tumor development.
PMCID: PMC3170651  PMID: 21838870
11.  Differential DNA methylation profiles in gynecological cancers and correlation with clinico-pathological data 
BMC Cancer  2006;6:212.
Epigenetic gene silencing is one of the major causes of carcinogenesis. Its widespread occurrence in cancer genome could inactivate many cellular pathways including DNA repair, cell cycle control, apoptosis, cell adherence, and detoxification. The abnormal promoter methylation might be a potential molecular marker for cancer management.
For rapid identification of potential targets for aberrant methylation in gynecological cancers, methylation status of the CpG islands of 34 genes was determined using pooled DNA approach and methylation-specific PCR. Pooled DNA mixture from each cancer type (50 cervical cancers, 50 endometrial cancers and 50 ovarian cancers) was made to form three test samples. The corresponding normal DNA from the patients of each cancer type was also pooled to form the other three control samples. Methylated alleles detected in tumors, but not in normal controls, were indicative of aberrant methylation in tumors. Having identified potential markers, frequencies of methylation were further analyzed in individual samples. Markers identified are used to correlate with clinico-pathological data of tumors using χ2 or Fisher's exact test.
APC and p16 were hypermethylated across the three cancers. MINT31 and PTEN were hypermethylated in cervical and ovarian cancers. Specific methylation was found in cervical cancer (including CDH1, DAPK, MGMT and MINT2), endometrial cancer (CASP8, CDH13, hMLH1 and p73), and ovarian cancer (BRCA1, p14, p15, RIZ1 and TMS1). The frequencies of occurrence of hypermethylation in 4 candidate genes in individual samples of each cancer type (DAPK, MGMT, p16 and PTEN in 127 cervical cancers; APC, CDH13, hMLH1 and p16 in 60 endometrial cancers; and BRCA1, p14, p16 and PTEN in 49 ovarian cancers) were examined for further confirmation. Incidence varied among different genes and in different cancer types ranging from the lowest 8.2% (PTEN in ovarian cancer) to the highest 56.7% (DAPK in cervical cancer). Aberrant methylation for some genes (BRCA1, DAPK, hMLH1, MGMT, p14, p16, and PTEN) was also associated with clinico-pathological data.
Thus, differential methylation profiles occur in the three types of gynecologic cancer. Detection of methylation for critical loci is potentially useful as epigenetic markers in tumor classification. More studies using a much larger sample size are needed to define the potential role of DNA methylation as marker for cancer management.
PMCID: PMC1560388  PMID: 16928264
12.  Levels of Exhaled Breath Condensate pH and Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide in Retired Coal Miners 
Toxicological Research  2010;26(4):329-337.
Inhaled inorganic dusts, such as coal, can cause inflammation and fibrosis in the lungs, known as pneumoconiosis. Diagnosis of pneumoconiosis depends on morphological changes by radiological findings and functional change by pulmonary function test (PFT) . Unfortunately, current diagnostic findings are limited only to lung fibrosis, which is usually irreversibly progressive. Therefore, it is important that research on potential and prospective biomarkers for pneumoconiosis should be conducted prior to initiation of irreversible radiological or functional changes in the lungs. Analytical techniques using exhaled breath condensate (EBC) or exhaled gas are non-invasive methods for detection of various respiratory diseases. The objective of this study is to investigate the relationship between inflammatory biomarkers, such as EBC pH or fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FENO) , and pneumoconiosis among 120 retired coal miners (41 controls and 79 pneumoconiosis patients) . Levels of EBC pH and FENO did not show a statistically significant difference between the pneumoconiosis patient group and pneumoconiosis patients with small opacity classified by International Labor Organization (ILO) classification. The mean concentration of FENO in the low percentage FEV1 (< 80%) was lower than that in the high percentage (80% ≤) (p = 0.023) . The mean concentration of FENO in current smokers was lower than that in non smokers (never or past smokers) (p = 0.027) . Although there was no statistical significance, the levels of FENO in smokers tended to decrease, compared with non smokers, regardless of pneumoconiosis. In conclusion, there was no significant relationship between the level of EBC pH or FENO and radiological findings or PFT. The effects between exhaled biomarkers and pneumoconiosis progression, such as decreasing PFT and exacerbation of radiological findings, should be monitored.
PMCID: PMC3834506  PMID: 24278541
Exhaled breath condensate; Fractional exhaled nitric oxide; pH; Lung inflammation; Pneumoconiosis
13.  Methylation profiling of twenty promoter-CpG islands of genes which may contribute to hepatocellular carcinogenesis 
BMC Cancer  2002;2:29.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) presents one of the major health threats in China today. A better understanding of the molecular genetics underlying malignant transformation of hepatocytes is critical to success in the battle against this disease. The methylation state of C5 of the cytosine in the CpG di-nucleotide that is enriched within or near the promoter region of over 50 % of the polymerase II genes has a drastic effect on transcription of these genes. Changes in the methylation profile of the promoters represent an alternative to genetic lesions as causative factors for the tumor-specific aberrant expression of the genes.
We have used the methylation specific PCR method in conjunction with DNA sequencing to assess the methylation state of the promoter CpG islands of twenty genes. Aberrant expression of these genes have been attributed to the abnormal methylation profile of the corresponding promoter CpG islands in human tumors.
While the following sixteen genes remained the unmethylated in all tumor and normal tissues: CDH1, APAF1, hMLH1, BRCA1, hTERC, VHL, RARβ, TIMP3, DAPK1, SURVIVIN, p14ARF, RB1, p15INK4b, APC, RASSF1c and PTEN, varying degrees of tumor specific hypermethylation were associated with the p16INK4a , RASSF1a, CASP8 and CDH13 genes. For instance, the p16INK4a was highly methylated in HCC (17/29, 58.6%) and less significantly methylated in non-cancerous tissue (4/29. 13.79%). The RASSF1a was fully methylated in all tumor tissues (29/29, 100%), and less frequently methylated in corresponding non-cancerous tissue (24/29, 82.75%).
Furthermore, co-existence of methylated with unmethylated DNA in some cases suggested that both genetic and epigenetic (CpG methylation) mechanisms may act in concert to inactivate the p16INK4a and RASSF1a in HCC. Finally, we found a significant association of cirrhosis with hypermethylation of the p16INK4a and hypomethylation of the CDH13 genes. For the first time, the survey was carried out on such an extent that it would not only provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms underscoring the aberrant expression of the genes in this study in HCC, but also offer essential information required for a good methylation-based diagnosis of HCC.
PMCID: PMC139988  PMID: 12433278
14.  Tumor-suppressor Gene Promoter Hypermethylation in Saliva of Head and Neck Cancer Patients1 
Translational Oncology  2012;5(5):321-326.
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) accounts for a bulk of the oral and laryngeal cancers, the majority (70%) of which are associated with smoking and excessive drinking, major known risk factors for the development of HNSCC. In contrast to reports that suggest an inverse relationship between smoking and global DNA CpG methylation, hypermethylation of promoters of a number of genes was detected in saliva collected from patients with HNSCC. Using a sensitive methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (MSP) assay to determine specific methylation events in the promoters of RASSF1A, DAPK1, and p16 genes, we demonstrate that we can detect tumor presence with an overall accuracy of 81% in the DNA isolated from saliva of patients with HNSCC (n = 143) when compared with the DNA isolated from the saliva of healthy nonsmoker controls (n = 31). The specificity for this MSP panel was 87% and the sensitivity was 80% (with a Fisher exact test P < .0001). In addition, the test panel performed extremely well in the detection of the early stages of HNSCCs, with a sensitivity of 94% and a specificity of 87%, and a high κ concordance value of 0.8, indicating an excellent overall agreement between the presence of HNSCC and a positive MSP panel result. In conclusion, we demonstrate that the promoter methylation of RASSF1A, DAPK1, and p16 MSP panel is useful in detecting hypermethylation events in a noninvasive manner in patients with HNSCC.
PMCID: PMC3468923  PMID: 23066440
15.  Exhaled breath 8-isoprostane as a marker of asthma severity 
Oxidative stress is a non-specific feature of airway inflammation in asthmatics. 8-Isoprostane (8-IP), a prostaglandin-F2α isomer, is a relatively new marker of oxidative stress and may be measured in exhaled breath condensate (EBC) of patients with asthma. This research study aimed to evaluate the usefulness of EBC 8-IP as a marker of severity and control of severe adult asthma.
Material and methods
Twenty-seven severe, never-smoking asthmatics were studied. According to positive or negative reversibility testing, this group was subdivided into reversible and irreversible asthma groups. All participants were observed for 8 weeks during which they completed daily diary observations including day and night symptoms, number of awakenings, peak expiratory flow (PEF) variability, daily rescue medication usage and oral steroids consumption. They attended the clinic 3 times and on these occasions spirometry assessments, EBC collection and asthma control tests (ACT) were done. Two control groups were included: 11 healthy never-smokers and 16 newly diagnosed and never-treated, non-smoking mild asthmatics.
There were no statistically significant differences between severe asthma and healthy control or never-treated asthma groups in concentrations of EBC 8-IP (median and interquartile range: 4.67; 2.50-27.92 vs. 6.93; 2.5-12.98 vs. 3.80; 2.50-10.73, respectively). No correlations were found between EBC 8-IP and asthma control parameters, such as ACT results, night and day symptoms, consumption of rescue medication, percentage of days free of oral steroids, PEF diurnal variation, lung function test results, forced expiratory volume in the 1 s reversibility, and markers of systemic inflammation.
Our study results suggest that EBC 8-IP measurements are not useful for asthma monitoring.
PMCID: PMC3400897  PMID: 22852009
8-isoprostane; exhaled breath condensate; oxidative stress; severe asthma
16.  Exhaled breath condensate pH as a biomarker of COPD severity in ex-smokers 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):67.
Endogenous airway acidification, as assessed by exhaled breath condensate (EBC) pH, is present in patients with stable COPD. The aim of this study was to measure EBC pH levels in a large cohort of COPD patients and to evaluate associations with functional parameters according to their smoking status.
EBC was collected from 161 patients with stable COPD and 112 controls (current and ex-smokers). EBC pH was measured after Argon deaeration and all subjects underwent pulmonary function testing.
EBC pH was lower in COPD patients compared to controls [7.21 (7.02, 7.44) vs. 7.50 (7.40, 7.66); p < 0.001] and ex-smokers with COPD had lower EBC pH compared to current smokers [7.16 (6.89, 7.36) vs 7.24 (7.09, 7.54), p = 0.03]. In ex-smokers with COPD, EBC pH was lower in patients with GOLD stage III and IV compared to patients with stage I disease (p = 0.026 and 0.004 respectively). No differences were observed among current smokers with different disease severity. EBC pH levels in ex-smokers were associated with static hyperinflation (as expressed by IC/TLC ratio), air trapping (as expressed by RV/TLC ratio) and diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide, whereas no associations were observed in current smokers.
Endogenous airway acidification is related to disease severity and to parameters expressing hyperinflation and air trapping in ex-smokers with COPD. The possible role of EBC pH in COPD needs to be further evaluated in longitudinal studies.
PMCID: PMC3120669  PMID: 21600044
17.  Genetic and Epigenetic Alterations in Primary–Progressive Paired Oligodendroglial Tumors 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67139.
The aim of the present study was to identify genetic and epigenetic alterations involved in the progression of oligodendroglial tumors. We characterized 21 paired, World Health Organization (WHO) grade II and III oligodendroglial tumors from patients who received craniotomies for the partial or complete resection of primary and secondary oligodendroglial tumors. Tumor DNA was analyzed for alterations in selected genetic loci (1p36, 9p22, 10q23–24, 17p13, 19q13, 22q12), isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1), isocitrate dehydrogenase 2 (IDH2) and the CpG island methylation status of critical tumor-related genes (MGMT, P16, DAPK, PTEN, RASSF1A, Rb1). Alterations of these markers were common early in the tumorigenesis. In the primary tumors we identified 12 patients (57.1%) with 1p36 deletions, 17 (81.0%) with 19q13 deletions, 9 (42.9%) with 1p36/19q13 codeletions, 11 (52.3%) with 9p22 deletions, and 12 (57.1%) with IDH1 mutation. Epigenetic analysis detected promoter methylation of the MGMT, P16, DAPK, PTEN, RASSF1A, and Rb1 genes in 38.1%, 19.0%, 38.1%, 33.3%, 66.7%, and 14.3% of primary tumors, respectively. After progression, additional losses of 1p, 9p, 10q, 17p, 19q and 22q were observed in 3 (14.3%), 1 (4.8%), 3 (14.3%), 2 (9.5%), 1 (4.8%) and 3 (14.3%) cases, respectively. Additional methylations of the MGMT, P16, DAPK, PTEN, RASSF1A, and RB1 promoters was observed in 4 (19.0%), 2 (9.5%), 0 (0%), 6 (28.6%), 2(9.5%) and 3 (14.3%) cases, respectively. The status of IDH1 mutation remained unchanged in all tumors after progression. The primary tumors of three patients with subsequent progression to high-grade astrocytomas, all had 9p deletion, intact 1p, intact 10q and unmethylated MGMT. Whether this may represent a molecular signature of patients at-risk for the development of aggressive astrocytomas needs further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3691155  PMID: 23826216
18.  Effect of cigarette smoke condensate on gene promoter methylation in human lung cells 
Tobacco Induced Diseases  2014;12(1):15.
In lung cancer, an association between tobacco smoking and promoter DNA hypermethylation has been demonstrated for several genes. However, underlying mechanisms for promoter hypermethylation in tobacco-induced cancer are yet to be fully established.
Promoter methylation was evaluated in control and cigarette smoke condensate (CSC) exposed human lung cells using the Methyl-Profiler DNA Methylation PCR System. PSAE cells were exposed to 0.3 or 1.0 μg/ml CSC for 72 hours and longer term for 14 and 30 days. NL-20 cells were exposed for 30 days to 10 or 100 μg/ml CSC.
Promoters of several genes, including hsa-let-7a-3, CHD1, CXCL12, PAX5, RASSF2, and TCF21, were highly methylated (>90%); hsa-let-7a-3 was affected in both cell lines and under all exposure conditions. Level of methylation tended to increase with CSC concentration and exposure duration (statistical differences were not determined). Percentage methylation of TCF21, which was >98% at exposures of 10 or 100 μg/ml CSC, was found to be reduced to 28% and 42%, respectively, in the presence of the dietary agent genistein.
Using array techniques, several tumor suppressor genes in human lung cells were identified that undergo promoter hypermethylation, providing further evidence of their potential involvement in tobacco smoke-induced lung carcinogenesis and their use as potential biomarkers of harm in tobacco smoke exposure. Results from the study also demonstrated the potential of a dietary agent to exert chemopreventive activity in human tissue against tobacco smoke related diseases through modulation of DNA methylation. Additional studies are needed to confirm these findings.
PMCID: PMC4160916  PMID: 25214829
DNA methylation; Cigarette smoke condensate; Lung cancer cells
19.  Eicosanoids in Exhaled Breath Condensate and Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid of Patients with Primary Lung Cancer 
Disease markers  2012;32(5):329-335.
Although eicosanoids are involved in lung carcinogenesis they were poorly investigated in exhaled breath condensate (EBC) and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALf) in patients with primary lung cancer. In this study 17 patients with diagnosed non-small cell lung cancer, 10 healthy smokers and 12 healthy nonsmokers were included. The levels of cys-LTs, 8-isoprostane, LTB4 and PGE2 were measured before any treatment in the EBC of all patients and in BALf of patients with lung cancer by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay. 8-isoprostane, LTB4, cys-LTs and PGE2 were detectable in the EBC and BALf. There were no significant differences between healthy smokers and nonsmokers in concentrations of all measured mediators. Compared with both healthy controls, patients with diagnosed lung cancer displayed higher concentrations of cys-LTs (p < 0.05) and LTB4 (p < 0.05) in EBC. In patients with lung cancer, the mean concentrations of all measured mediators were significantly higher in BALf compared with EBC and there was a significant, positive correlation between concentration of cys-LTs, LTB4 and 8-isoprostane in BALf and their concentrations in the EBC (r = 0.64, p < 0.05, r = 0.59, p < 0.05, r = 0.53, p < 0.05 respectively). Since cys-LT, LTB4 and 8-isoprostane concentrations in EBC from patients with lung cancer reflect their concentrations in BALf, they may serve as a possible non-invasive method to monitor the disease and to assess the effectiveness of therapy.
PMCID: PMC3826875  PMID: 22674413
Exhaled breath condensate; broncholaveolar lavage; lung cancer; leukotrienes; prostaglandins; early detection
20.  Methylation of death-associated protein kinase is associated with cetuximab and erlotinib resistance 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(8):1656-1663.
Anti-EGFR therapy is among the most promising molecular targeted therapies against cancer developed in the past decade. However, drug resistance eventually arises in most, if not all, treated patients. Emerging evidence has linked epigenetic changes, such as DNA methylation at CpG islands, to the development of resistance to multiple anticancer drugs. In addition, genes that are differentially methylated have increasingly been appreciated as a source of clinically relevant biomarker candidates. To identify genes that are specifically methylated during the evolution of resistance to anti-EGFR therapeutic agents, we performed a methylation-specific array containing a panel of 56 genes that are commonly known to be regulated through promoter methylation in two parental non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) cell lines and their resistant derivatives to either erlotinib or cetuximab. We found that death-associated protein kinase (DAPK) was hypermethylated in drug-resistant derivatives generated from both parental cell lines. Restoration of DAPK into the resistant NSCLC cells by stable transfection re-sensitized the cells to both erlotinib and cetuximab. Conversely, siRNA-mediated knockdown of DAPK induced resistance in the parental sensitive cells. These results demonstrate that DAPK plays important roles in both cetuximab and erlotinib resistance, and that gene silencing through promoter methylation is one of the key mechanisms of developed resistance to anti-EGFR therapeutic agents. In conclusion, DAPK could be a novel target to overcome resistance to anti-EGFR agents to improve the therapeutic benefit, and further evaluation of DAPK methylation as a potential biomarker of drug response is needed.
PMCID: PMC3341232  PMID: 22487682
cetuximab; DAPK; erlotinib; methylation; NSCLC
21.  Epigenetic markers for early detection of nasopharyngeal carcinoma in a high risk population 
Molecular Cancer  2011;10:48.
Undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is strongly related to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection, allowing aberrant antibodies against EBV and viral DNA load as screening tools in high risk populations. Methylation analysis in the promoter of tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) may serve as a complementary marker for identifying early cases. This study determined methylation status of multiple TSGs and evaluated whether it may improve early detection.
Nasopharyngeal brushings were taken from 53 NPC patients, 22 high risk subjects and 25 healthy EBV carriers. Corresponding NPC paraffin tissue was included. DNA was bisulfite-modified preceding analysis by methylation-specific PCR (MSP). Ten TSGs were studied.
NPC paraffin and brushing DNA revealed an 81.8% concordance so that MSP analysis was done using either one of both specimens. NPC samples showed methylation for individual TSGs (DAPK1 79.2%, CDH13 77.4%, DLC1 76.9%, RASSF1A 75.5%, CADM1 69.8%, p16 66.0%, WIF1 61.2%, CHFR 58.5%, RIZ1 56.6% and RASSF2A 29.2%). High risk individuals, having elevated EBV IgA and viral load, showed high frequency of methylation of CDH13, DAPK1, DLC1 and CADM1, but low frequency of methylation of p16 and WIF1 and undetectable methylation of RASSF1A, CHFR, RIZ1 and RASSF2A. Healthy subjects showed similar patterns as high risk individuals. A combination of RASSF1A and p16 gave good discrimination between NPC and non-NPC, but best results were combined analysis of five methylation markers (RASSF1A, p16, WIF1, CHFR and RIZ1) with detection rate of 98%.
Multiple marker MSP is proposed as a complementary test for NPC risk assessment in combination with EBV-based markers.
PMCID: PMC3114786  PMID: 21535891
22.  Influence of HRH2 promoter polymorphism on aberrant DNA methylation of DAPK and CDH1 in the gastric epithelium 
BMC Gastroenterology  2013;13:1.
Aberrant methylation patterns in CpG island are known to be influential in gene silencing. Histamine plays important physiological roles in the upper gastrointestinal tract and acts via the H2 receptor. We report an investigation into the effect of HRH2 promoter polymorphism (rs2607474 G > A) on the methylation of DAPK and CDH1.
Non cancerous gastric mucosa samples were obtained from 115 subjects with gastric cancer (GC) and 412 non-cancer subjects (non-GC). Methylation status of genes was determined by MSP. The genotyping of rs2607474 was performed by PCR-SSCP.
Methylation of DAPK and CDH1 was observed in 296 and 246 subjects, respectively. The frequency of CDH1 methylation in the subjects with GC was significantly lower in cancer lesion than in non cancerous mucosa, whereas that of DAPK methylation was not different. The allelic distribution of rs2607474 was 401GG, 119GA and 7AA. The GG homozygote was associated with a significantly increased risk for methylation of both DAPK and CDH1 (p < 0.0001 and p = 0.0009, respectively). In the non-GC subjects or more than 60 years of age, GG homozygote was more closely associated with both DAPK and CDH1 methylation. However, this genotype did not show an increased risk for the development of methylation of both genes in patients with GC. In H. pylori negative subjects, GG homozygote showed an increased risk for the methylation of both DAPK and CDH1 (p = 0.0074 and p = 0.0016, respectively), whereas this genotype was associated with an increased risk for the development of DAPK methylation in H. pylori positive subjects (p = 0.0018). In addition, in subjects older than 60 years of age, atrophy and metaplasia scores were significantly higher in the GG homozygote (p = 0.011 and p = 0.039, respectively) and a significant correlation was observed between age and atrophy or metaplasia.
Our results suggest that rs2607474 GG homozygote confers a significantly increased risk for age- and inflammation-related DAPK and CDH1 methylation.
PMCID: PMC3583698  PMID: 23280118
HRH2; Genetic polymorphism; Aberrant DNA methylation
23.  Application of a methylation gene panel by quantitative PCR for lung cancers 
Cancer Letters  2006;247(1):56-71.
Detection of lung cancer at early stages could potentially increase survival rates. One promising approach is the application of suitable lung cancer-specific biomarkers to specimens obtained by non-invasive methods. Thus far, clinically useful biomarkers that have high sensitivity have proven elusive. Certain genes, which are involved in cellular pathways such as signal transduction, apoptosis, cell to cell communication, cell cycles and cytokine signaling are down-regulated in cancers and may be considered as potential tumor suppressor genes. Aberrant promoter hypermethylation is a major mechanism for silencing tumor suppressor genes in many kinds of human cancers. Using quantitative real time PCR, we tested 11 genes (3-OST-2, RASSF1A, DcR1, DcR2, P16, DAPK, APC, ECAD, HCAD, SOCS1, SOCS3) for levels of methylation within their promoter sequences in non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC), adjacent non-malignant lung tissues, in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from cancer free patients, in sputum of cancer patients and controls. Of all the 11 genes tested 3-OST-2 showed the highest levels of promoter methylation in tumors combined with lowest levels of promoter methylation in control tissues. 3-OST-2 followed by, RASSF1A showed increased levels of methylation with advanced tumor stage (P<0.05). Thus, quantitative analysis of 3-OST-2 and RASSF1A methylation appears to be a promising biomarker assay for NSCLC and should be further explored in a clinical study. Our preliminary data on the analysis of sputum DNA specimens from cancer patients further support these observations.
PMCID: PMC3379713  PMID: 16644104
Real time PCR; Tumor suppressor gene; Non-small cell lung cancer
24.  Exhaled breath analysis for lung cancer 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2013;5(Suppl 5):S540-S550.
Early diagnosis of lung cancer results in improved survival compared to diagnosis with more advanced disease. Early disease is not reliably indicated by symptoms. Because investigations such as bronchoscopy and needle biopsy have associated risks and substantial costs, they are not suitable for population screening. Hence new easily applicable tests, which can be used to screen individuals at risk, are required. Biomarker testing in exhaled breath samples is a simple, relatively inexpensive, non-invasive approach. Exhaled breath contains volatile and non-volatile organic compounds produced as end-products of metabolic processes and the composition of such compounds varies between healthy subjects and subjects with lung cancer. Many studies have analysed the patterns of these compounds in exhaled breath. In addition studies have also reported that the exhaled breath condensate (EBC) can reveal gene mutations or DNA abnormalities in patients with lung cancer. This review has summarised the scientific evidence demonstrating that lung cancer has distinct chemical profiles in exhaled breath and characteristic genetic changes in EBC. It is not yet possible to accurately identify individuals with lung cancer in at risk populations by any of these techniques. However, analysis of both volatile organic compounds in exhaled breath and of EBC have great potential to become clinically useful diagnostic and screening tools for early stage lung cancer detection.
PMCID: PMC3804873  PMID: 24163746
Lung cancer; biomarkers; volatile organic compounds; exhaled breath
25.  Quantitative global and gene-specific promoter methylation in relation to biological properties of neuroblastomas 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:83.
In this study we aimed to quantify tumor suppressor gene (TSG) promoter methylation densities levels in primary neuroblastoma tumors and cell lines. A subset of these TSGs is associated with a CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) in other tumor types.
The study panel consisted of 38 primary tumors, 7 established cell lines and 4 healthy references. Promoter methylation was determined by bisulphate Pyrosequencing for 14 TSGs; and LINE-1 repeat element methylation was used as an indicator of global methylation levels.
Overall mean TSG Z-scores were significantly increased in cases with adverse outcome, but were unrelated to global LINE-1 methylation. CIMP with hypermethylation of three or more gene promoters was observed in 6/38 tumors and 7/7 cell lines. Hypermethylation of one or more TSG (comprising TSGs BLU, CASP8, DCR2, CDH1, RASSF1A and RASSF2) was evident in 30/38 tumors. By contrast only very low levels of promoter methylation were recorded for APC, DAPK1, NORE1A, P14, P16, TP73, PTEN and RARB. Similar involvements of methylation instability were revealed between cell line models and neuroblastoma tumors. Separate analysis of two proposed CASP8 regulatory regions revealed frequent and significant involvement of CpG sites between exon 4 and 5, but modest involvement of the exon 1 region.
The results highlight the involvement of TSG methylation instability in neuroblastoma tumors and cell lines using quantitative methods, support the use of DNA methylation analyses as a prognostic tool for this tumor type, and underscore the relevance of developing demethylating therapies for its treatment.
PMCID: PMC3495052  PMID: 22984959
Neuroblastoma; Pyrosequencing; CIMP; BLU; CASP8; DCR2; CDH1; RASSF1A; RASSF2

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