With the development of high-throughput screening, a variety of genetic alterations has been found in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Although previous studies on HCC methylation profiles have focused on liver tissue, studies using isolated hepatocytes are rare. The heterogeneity of liver composition may impact the genuine methylation status of HCC; therefore, it is important to clarify the methylation profile of hepatocytes to aid in understanding the process of tumorigenesis.
Methods and Findings
The global methylation profile of single hepatocytes isolated from liver tissue of hepatitis B virus (HBV) related HCC (HBHC) was analyzed using Illumina Infinium Human Methylation27 BeadChips, and combined bisulfite restriction analysis (COBRA) and bisulfite sequencing were used to validate the 20 significant hypermethylated genes identified. In this study, we found many noteworthy differences in the genome-wide methylation profiles of single hepatocytes of HBHC. Unsupervised hierarchical clustering analysis showed that hepatocyte methylation profiles could be classified according to three cell types: hepatocytes of HCC, adjacent hepatocytes and normal hepatocytes. Among the 20 most hypermethylated genes in the hepatocytes of HBHC, 7 novel genes (WNK2, EMILIN2, TLX3, TM6SF1, TRIM58, HIST1H4Fand GRASP) were found to be hypermethylated in HBHC and hypomethylated in paired adjacent liver tissues; these findings have not been reported in previous studies on tissue samples.
The genome-wide methylation profile of purified single hepatocytes of HBHC was aided in understanding the process of tumorigenesis, and a series of novel methylated genes found in this study have the potential to be biomarkers for the diagnosis and prognosis of HBHC.
Hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) mainly develop from liver cirrhosis and severe liver fibrosis that are established with long-lasting inflammation of the liver. Silencing of the suppressor of the cytokine signaling-1 (SOCS1) gene, a negative regulator of cytokine signaling, by DNA methylation has been implicated in development or progress of HCC. However, how SOCS1 contributes to HCC is unknown. We examined SOCS1 gene methylation in >200 patients with chronic liver disease and found that the severity of liver fibrosis is strongly correlated with SOCS1 gene methylation. In murine liver fibrosis models using dimethylnitrosamine, mice with haploinsufficiency of the SOCS1 gene (SOCS1−/+ mice) developed more severe liver fibrosis than did wild-type littermates (SOCS1+/+ mice). Moreover, carcinogen-induced HCC development was also enhanced by heterozygous deletion of the SOCS1 gene. These findings suggest that SOCS1 contributes to protection against hepatic injury and fibrosis, and may also protect against hepatocarcinogenesis.
cytokine; STAT; TGF-β; DNA methylation; hepatitis C virus
Hypermethylation of the promoter of the tumor suppressor gene, adenomatous polyposis coli (APC), occurs in various malignancies, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, reports on the specificity of the methylation of the APC gene for HCC have varied. To gain insight into how these variations occur, bisulfite PCR sequencing was performed to analyze the methylation status of both sense and antisense strands of the APC gene in samples of HCC tissue, matched adjacent non-HCC liver tissue, hepatitis, cirrhosis, and normal liver tissues. DNA derived from fetal liver and 12 nonhepatic normal tissue was also examined. These experiments revealed liver-specific, antisense strand-biased CpG methylation of the APC gene and suggested that, although methylation of the antisense strand of the APC gene exists in normal liver and other non-HCC disease liver tissue, methylation of the sense strand of the APC gene occurs predominantly in HCC. To determine the effect of the DNA strand on the specificity of the methylated APC gene as a biomarker for HCC detection, quantitative methylation-specific PCR assays for sense and antisense strand DNA were developed and performed on DNA isolated from HCC (n = 58), matched adjacent non-HCC (n = 58), cirrhosis (n = 41), and hepatitis (n = 39). Receiver operating characteristic curves were constructed. With the cutoff value set at the limit of detection, the specificity of sense and antisense strand methylation was 84% and 43%, respectively, and sensitivity was 67.2% and 72.4%, respectively. This result demonstrated that the identity of the methylated DNA strand impacted the specificity of APC for HCC detection. Interestingly, methylation of the sense strand of APC occurred in 40% of HCCs from patients with serum AFP levels less than 20 ng/mL, suggesting a potential role for APC as a biomarker to complement AFP in HCC screening.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common cancer and advanced hepatic fibrosis is a major risk factor for HCC. Hepatic fibrosis including liver cirrhosis and HCC are mainly induced by persistent hepatitis B or C virus infection, with approximately 500 million people infected with hepatitis B or C virus worldwide. Furthermore, the number of patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has recently increased and NAFLD can progress to cirrhosis and HCC. These chronic liver diseases are major causes of morbidity and mortality, and the identification of non-invasive biomarkers is important for early diagnosis. Recent advancements in quantitative and large-scale proteomic methods could be used to optimize the clinical application of biomarkers. Early diagnosis of HCC and assessment of the stage of hepatic fibrosis or NAFLD can also contribute to more effective therapeutic interventions and an improve prognosis. Furthermore, advancements of proteomic techniques contribute not only to the discovery of clinically useful biomarkers, but also in clarifying the molecular mechanisms of disease pathogenesis by using body fluids, such as serum, and tissue samples and cultured cells. In this review, we report recent advances in quantitative proteomics and several findings focused on liver diseases, including HCC, NAFLD, hepatic fibrosis and hepatitis B or C virus infections.
Protein downregulation and hypermethylation of Ras association domain family 1A (RASSF1A) has been recognized as an important early event in different classes of carcinogenesis, but clinicopathological significance of RASSF1A protein expression and methylation in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains largely unknown. The aim of the study was to investigate the expression of RASSF1A protein and methylation in HCC and their clinical significance.
Immunohistochemistry was employed to detect the expression of RASSF1A proteins in liver tissue microarrays. Aberrant promoter hypermethylation of RASSF1A was investigated in DNA from HCC, matching noncancerous tissues and serum of 35 HCC patients by methylation-specific PCR.
RASSF1A protein expression in HCC was significantly lower than that in noncancerous (p = 0.015) and paracancerous tissues (p = 0.017). In addition, reduced RASSF1A protein expression is related to TNM stage, metastasis, α-fetoprotein, portal vein embolus, capsular infiltration, and multiple tumor nodes. Furthermore, RASSF1A promoter methylation in HCC was significantly higher than that in noncancerous liver tissues (p < 0.05). Meanwhile, RASSF1A promoter hypermethylation was detected in 14 in the serum DNA from HCC patients, whereas no hypermethylation was detected in the normal controls. Hypermethylation of RASSF1A in HCC serum and tissues was negatively correlated with the expression of RASSF1A protein expression (p < 0.05).
The loss or abnormal protein downregulation and the promoter hypermethylation of RASSF1A could play important roles in the tumorigenesis development and metastases of HCC. The detection of the promoter hypermethylation of RASSF1A in serum DNA could be a valuable biomarker for early-stage diagnosis in populations at high risk of HCC.
RASSF1A; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Immunohistochemistry; Promoter hypermethylation; Tissue microarrays (TMAs); DNA
Chronic hepatitis C (CH) can develop into liver cirrhosis (LC) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Liver fibrosis and HCC development are strongly correlated, but there is no effective treatment against fibrosis because the critical mechanism of progression of liver fibrosis is not fully understood. microRNAs (miRNAs) are now essential to the molecular mechanisms of several biological processes. In order to clarify how the aberrant expression of miRNAs participates in development of the liver fibrosis, we analyzed the liver fibrosis in mouse liver fibrosis model and human clinical samples.
In a CCL4-induced mouse liver fibrosis model, we compared the miRNA expression profile from CCL4 and olive oil administrated liver specimens on 4, 6, and 8 weeks. We also measured expression profiles of human miRNAs in the liver biopsy specimens from 105 CH type C patients without a history of anti-viral therapy.
Eleven mouse miRNAs were significantly elevated in progressed liver fibrosis relative to control. By using a large amount of human material in CH analysis, we determined the miRNA expression pattern according to the grade of liver fibrosis. We detected several human miRNAs whose expression levels were correlated with the degree of progression of liver fibrosis. In both the mouse and human studies, the expression levels of miR-199a, 199a*, 200a, and 200b were positively and significantly correlated to the progressed liver fibrosis. The expression level of fibrosis related genes in hepatic stellate cells (HSC), were significantly increased by overexpression of these miRNAs.
Four miRNAs are tightly related to the grade of liver fibrosis in both human and mouse was shown. This information may uncover the critical mechanism of progression of liver fibrosis. miRNA expression profiling has potential for diagnostic and therapeutic applications.
DNA methylation is one of the main epigenetic mechanisms and hypermethylation of CpG islands at tumor suppressor genes switches off these genes. To find novel DNA methylation markers in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), we performed pharmacological unmasking (treatment with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine or trichostatin A) followed by microarray analysis in HCC cell lines. Of the 239 promoter CpG island loci hypermethylated in HCC cell lines (as revealed by methylation-specific PCR), 221 loci were found to be hypermethylated in HCC or nonneoplastic liver tissues. Thirty-three loci showed a 20% higher methylation frequency in tumors than in adjacent nonneoplastic tissues. Correlation of individual cancer-related methylation markers with clinicopathological features of HCC patients (n = 95) revealed that the number of hypermethylated genes in HCC tumors was higher in older than in younger patients. Univariate and multivariate survival analysis revealed that the HIST1H2AE methylation status is closely correlated with the patient's overall survival (P = 0.022 and P = 0.010, respectively). In conclusion, we identified 221 novel DNA methylation markers for HCC. One promising prognostic marker, HIST1H2AE, should be further validated in the prognostication of HCC patients.
CpG Islands; DNA Methylation; Carcinoma, Hepatocellular; Microarray; Prognosis
We investigated the impact of promoter methylation on APC protein expression in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Materials and methods
50 patients [HCC (n=19), liver metastasis (n=19), cholangiocellular cancer (n=7), and benign liver tumors (n=5)] were studied for methylation using Methylight analysis. APC mutation was investigated by protein truncation test and direct sequencing of genomic DNA. The protein expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis.
The APC promoter was hypermethylated in 81.8% of non-cancerous liver tissue samples. All HCC samples and ten patients with liver metastasis (52.6%) exhibited APC promoter methylation. The degree of methylation was significantly higher in samples from HCC compared to the non-cancerous liver tissue samples (63.1% vs. 24.98%; p=0.001). The level of APC protein expression was significantly reduced in HCC samples compared to that of the corresponding non-tumor liver tissue (p<0.05).
Promoter methylation of the APC gene seems to be of significance in hepatocarcinogenesis and results in reduced protein expression in HCC. Interestingly, APC promoter methylation is also present in the vast majority of non-cancerous liver tissue whose (patho)physiological function remains unresolved.
Promoter methylation; APC; Methylight assay; Protein; Hepatocellular carcinoma
Liver fibrosis is a middle stage in the course of chronic Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, which will develop into cirrhosis and eventually hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) if not treated at the early stage. Considering the limitations and patients' reluctance to undergo liver biopsy, a reliable, noninvasive diagnostic system to predict and assess treatment and prognosis of liver fibrosis is needed. The aim of this study was to identify biomarkers for early diagnosis of HBV related liver fibrosis.
Plasma samples from 7 healthy volunteers and 27 HBV infected patients with different stages of fibrosis were selected for 2-DIGE proteomic screening. One-way ANOVA analysis was used to assess differences in protein expression among all groups. The alteration was further confirmed by western blotting. Plasma levels of 25 serological variables in 42 healthy volunteers and 68 patients were measured to establish a decision tree for the detection of various stages fibrosis.
The up-regulated proteins along with fibrosis progress included fibrinogen, collagen, macroglobulin, hemopexin, antitrypsin, prealbumin and thioredoxin peroxidase. The down-regulated proteins included haptoglobin, serotransferrin, CD5 antigen like protein, clusterin, apolipoprotein and leucine-rich alpha-2-glycoprotein. For the discrimination of milder stage fibrosis, the area under curve for Prx II was the highest. Four variables (PT, Pre, HA and Prx II) were selected from the 25 variables to construct the decision tree. In a training group, the correct prediction percentage for normal control, milder fibrosis, significant fibrosis and early cirrhosis was 100%, 88.9%, 95.2% and 100%, respectively, with an overall correct percent of 95.9%.
This study showed that 2-D DIGE-based proteomic analysis of the plasma was helpful in screening for new plasma biomarkers for liver disease. The significant up-expression of Prx II could be used in the early diagnosis of HBV related liver fibrosis.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that function as endogenous silencers of target genes. Some tumor-suppressive miRNAs are known to be epigenetically silenced by promoter DNA methylation in cancer. In the present study, we aimed to identify miRNA genes that are silenced by DNA hypermethylation in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We screened for miRNA genes with promoter DNA hypermethylation using a genome-wide methylation microarray analysis in HCC cells. It was found that miR-335, which is harbored within an intron of its protein-coding host gene, MEST, was downregulated by aberrant promoter hypermethylation via further methylation assays, including methylation-specific PCR, combined bisulfite and restriction analysis, bisulfite sequencing analysis and 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine treatment. The expression levels of miR-335 significantly correlated with those of MEST, supporting the notion that the intronic miR-335 is co-expressed with its host gene. The levels of miR-335/MEST methylation were significantly higher in 18 (90%) out of 20 primary HCC tumors, compared to their non-tumor tissue counterparts (P<0.001). The expression levels of miR-335 were significantly lower in 25 (78%) out of 32 primary HCC tumors, compared to their non-tumor tissue counterparts (P=0.001). Furthermore, the expression levels of miR-335 were significantly lower in HCC tumors with distant metastasis compared to those without distant metastasis (P=0.02). In conclusion, our results indicate that expression of miR-335 is reduced by aberrant DNA methylation in HCC.
miR-335; MEST; methylation; hepatocellular carcinoma
AIM: To assess the predictive value of the insulin-like growth factor 2 (Igf2) methylation profile for the occurrence of Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) in hepatitis C (HCV) cirrhosis.
METHODS: Patients with: (1) biopsy-proven compensated HCV cirrhosis; (2) available baseline frozen liver sample; (3) absence of detectable HCC; (4) regular screening for HCC; (5) informed consent for genetic analysis were studied. After DNA extraction from liver samples and bisulfite treatment, unbiased PCR and DHPLC analysis were performed for methylation analysis at the Igf2 locus. The predictive value of the Igf2 methylation profile for HCC was assessed by Kaplan-Meier and Cox methods.
RESULTS: Among 94 included patients, 20 developed an HCC during follow-up (6.9 ± 3.2 years). The methylation profile was hypomethylated, intermediate and hypermethylated in 13, 64 and 17 cases, respectively. In univariate analysis, two baseline parameters were associated with the occurrence of HCC: age (P = 0.01) and prothrombin (P = 0.04). The test of linear tendency between the three ordered levels of Igf2 methylation and probability of HCC occurrence was significant (Log Rank, P = 0.043; Breslow, P = 0.037; Tarone-Ware, P = 0.039).
CONCLUSION: These results suggest that hypome-thylation at the Igf2 locus in the liver could be predictive for HCC occurrence in HCV cirrhosis.
Liver cancer; Cirrhosis; Insulin-growth factor 2, DNA methylation
A diet lacking folic acid and choline and low in methionine (folate/methyl deficient diet, FMD diet) fed to rats is known to produce preneoplastic nodules (PNNs) after 36 weeks and hepatocellular carcinomas (tumors) after 54 weeks. FMD diet-induced tumors exhibit global hypomethylation and regional hypermethylation. Restriction landmark genome scanning analysis with methylation-sensitive enzyme NotI (RLGS-M) of genomic DNA isolated from control livers, PNNs and tumor tissues was performed to identify the genes that are differentially methylated or amplified during multistage hepatocarcinogenesis. Out of the 1250 genes analysed, 2 to 5 genes were methylated in the PNNs, whereas 5 to 45 genes were partially or completely methylated in the tumors. This analysis also showed amplification of 3 to 12 genes in the primary tumors. As a first step towards identifying the genes methylated in the PNNs and primary hepatomas, we generated a rat NotI–EcoRV genomic library in the pBluescriptKS vector. Here, we describe identification of one methylated and downregulated gene as the rat protein tyrosine phosphatase receptor type O (PTPRO) and one amplified gene as rat C-MYC. Methylation of PTPRO at the NotI site located immediate upstream of the trancription start site in the PNNs and tumors, and amplification of C-MYC gene in the tumors were confirmed by Southern blot analyses. Bisulfite genomic sequencing of the CpG island encompassing exon 1 of the PTPRO gene revealed dense methylation in the PNNs and tumors, whereas it was methylation free in the livers of animals on normal diet. Reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT–PCR) analysis showed significant decrease in the expression of PTPRO in the tumors and in a transplanted rat hepatoma. The expression of PTPRO mRNA in the transplanted hepatoma after demethylation with 5-azacytidine, a potent inhibitor of DNA methyltransferases, further confirmed the role of methylation in PTPRO gene expression. These results demonstrate alteration in methylation profile and expression of specific genes during tumor progression in the livers of rats in response to folate/methyl deficiency, and further implicate the potential role of PTPRO as a novel growth regulatory gene at least in the hepatocellular carcinomas.
DNA methylation; DNA amplification; folate deficiency; hepatocellular carcinoma; PTPRO; 5-azacytidine
Liver cancer is the fifth most common cancer and the third most common cause of cancer related death in the world. The recent development of new techniques for the investigations of global change in the gene expression, signaling pathways and wide genome binding has provided novel information for the mechanisms underlying liver cancer progression. Although these studies identified gene expression signatures in hepatocelluar carcinoma, the early steps of the development of hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC) are not well understood. The development of HCC is a multistep process which includes the progressive alterations of gene expression leading to the increased proliferation and to liver cancer. This review summarizes recent progress in the identification of the key steps of the development of HCC with the focus on early events of carcinogenesis and on the role of translational and epigenetic alterations in the development of HCC. Quiescent stage of the liver is supported by several tumor suppressor proteins including p53, Rb and C/EBPα. Studies with chemical models of liver carcinogenesis and with human HCC have shown that the elevation of gankyrin is responsible for the elimination of these three proteins at early steps of carcinogenesis. Later stages of progression of the liver cancer are associated with alterations in many signaling pathways including translation which leads to epigenetic silencing/activation of many genes. Particularly, recent reports suggest a critical role of histone deacetylase 1, HDAC1, in the development of HCC through the interactions with transcription factors such as C/EBP family proteins.
liver cancer; C/EBPα; p53; Rb; gankyrin
Hepatocarcinogenesis is a multi-stage process in which precursor lesions progress into early hepatocellular carcinomas (eHCC) by sequential accumulation of multiple genetic and epigenetic alterations. To decode the molecular events during early stages of liver carcinogenesis, we performed gene expression profiling on cirrhotic (regenerative) and dysplastic nodules (DN) as well as eHCC. Although considerable heterogeneity was observed at the regenerative and dysplastic stages, overall 460 differentially expressed genes were detected between DN and eHCC. Functional analysis of the significant gene set identified the MYC oncogene as a plausible driver gene for malignant conversion of the dysplastic nodules. In addition, gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) revealed global activation of the MYC up-regulated gene set in eHCC versus dysplasia. Presence of the MYC signature significantly correlated with increased expression of CSN5 as well as with higher overall transcription rate of genes located in the 8q chromosome region. Furthermore, a classifier constructed from MYC target genes could robustly discriminate eHCC from high- and low-grade dysplastic nodules. In conclusion, our study identified unique expression patterns associated with the transition of high-grade dysplastic nodules into early HCC and demonstrated that activation of the MYC transcription signature is strongly associated with the malignant conversion of pre-neoplastic liver lesions.
The p16 tumor suppressor gene is an important negative regulator of the cell cycle. Inactivation of p16, especially via promoter hypermethylation, has been found in numerous human cancers such as breast, lung, colorectal, and liver.
To determine the role of epigenetic methylation in p16 regulation in Iranian patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Patients and Methods
The methylation pattern in the p16 gene promoter was analyzed by bisulfite direct sequencing in 43 paraffin-embedded formalin-fixed tissues from patients with HCC. In addition, normal specimens from liver graft donors were used as the control group.
The bisulfite direct sequencing showed heterozygous hypermethylation in 13.9% of individuals with HCC. Homozygous methylation within the GC-box IV was detected in another 58.1% of the patients.
It is proposed that methylation, but not necessarily hypermethylation, may play a role in the down-regulation of the p16 gene promoter at least in some Iranian patients with HCC.
p16; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Bisulfite; Direct sequencing methylation
Hypermethylation of the glutathione S-transferase π 1 (GSTP1) gene promoter region has been reported to be a potential biomarker to distinguish hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) from other liver diseases. However, reports regarding how specific a marker it is have ranged from 100% to 0%. We hypothesized that, to a large extent, the variation of specificity depends on the location of the CpG sites analyzed. To test this hypothesis, we compared the methylation status of the GSTP1 promoter region of the DNA isolated from HCC, cirrhosis, hepatitis, and normal liver tissues by bisulfite–PCR sequencing. We found that the 5′ region of the position −48 nt from the transcription start site of the GSTP1 gene is selectively methylated in HCC, whereas the 3′ region is methylated in all liver tissues examined, including normal liver and the HCC tissue. Interestingly, when DNA derived from fetal liver and 11 nonhepatic normal tissue was also examined by bisulfite-PCR sequencing, we found that methylation of the 3′ region of the promoter appeared to be liver-specific. A methylation-specific PCR assay targeting the 5′ region of the promoter was developed and used to quantify the methylated GSTP1 gene in various diseased liver tissues including HCC. When we used an assay targeting the 3′ region, we found that the methylation of the 5′-end of the GSTP1 promoter was significantly more specific than that of the 3′-end (97.1% vs. 60%, p<0.0001 by Fisher's exact test) for distinguishing HCC (n = 120) from hepatitis (n = 35) and cirrhosis (n = 35). Encouragingly, 33.8% of the AFP-negative HCC contained the methylated GSTP1 gene. This study clearly demonstrates the importance of the location of CpG site methylation for HCC specificity and how liver-specific DNA methylation should be considered when an epigenetic DNA marker is studied for detection of HCC.
Recent progress in high-throughput technologies has greatly contributed to the development of DNA methylation profiling. Although there are several reports that describe methylome detection of whole genome bisulfite sequencing, the high cost and heavy demand on bioinformatics analysis prevents its extensive application. Thus, current strategies for the study of mammalian DNA methylomes is still based primarily on genome-wide methylated DNA enrichment combined with DNA microarray detection or sequencing. Methylated DNA enrichment is a key step in a microarray based genome-wide methylation profiling study, and even for future high-throughput sequencing based methylome analysis.
In order to evaluate the sensitivity and accuracy of methylated DNA enrichment, we investigated and optimized a number of important parameters to improve the performance of several enrichment assays, including differential methylation hybridization (DMH), microarray-based methylation assessment of single samples (MMASS), and methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP). With advantages and disadvantages unique to each approach, we found that assays based on methylation-sensitive enzyme digestion and those based on immunoprecipitation detected different methylated DNA fragments, indicating that they are complementary in their relative ability to detect methylation differences.
Our study provides the first comprehensive evaluation for widely used methodologies for methylated DNA enrichment, and could be helpful for developing a cost effective approach for DNA methylation profiling.
Transcriptional silencing of tumor suppressor genes and other cancer-related genes induced by promoter CpG island hypermethylation is an important epigenetic mechanism of hepatocarcinogenesis. Previous studies have established methylation profiles of hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) and demonstrated that methylation of several candidate genes in resected tissues may be associated with time to recurrence. The goals of our study were to test whether specific promoter methylation and mRNA levels of candidate genes, as well as global changes in DNA methylation, can be linked with time to recurrence and clinicopathological variables in a homogenous study group of HCC patients. Forty-three tumorous and 45 non-tumorous liver tissue samples from the surgical margin were obtained from HCV-positive, HBV-negative HCC patients who underwent tumor resection surgery and who were monitored for tumor recurrence thereafter (median follow-up time: 16 months (range, 0 – 79 months)). Methylation-specific PCR was used to assess the promoter methylation status of P16(INK4a), SOCS-1, RASSF1A, APC, GSTP1, RIZ1, and MGMT genes, while the level of LINE-1 methylation was used as marker of global DNA methylation levels. Methylation frequencies in P16(INK4a), RASSF1A, APC, GSTP1, and RIZ1 genes were significantly greater in tumorous versus non-tumorous tissues. Methylation of RIZ1 in non-tumorous tissues was significantly associated with time to recurrence. Additionally, genomic DNA was significantly more hypomethylated in tumorous tissues, and this change was associated with shorter recurrence, but not with clinicopathological features. In conclusion, this study supports the role of aberrant methylation in the pathobiology of HCV-positive HCCs. The finding that RIZ1 methylation and increased levels of LINE-1 hypomethylation in non-tumorous tissues are associated with time to recurrence underscores the importance of assessing the epigenetic state of the liver remnant.
hepatocellular carcinoma; epigenetics; time to recurrence
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common cancer and the third cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide. Its incidence is clearly arising comprised by the prevalence of major risk factors mainly hepatitis B and hepatitis C. The population at risk is composed of chronic liver patients at the stage of extensive fibrosis or cirrhosis. The monitoring programs of this population have allowed early detection of disease management to promote a radical therapy. Understanding the carcinogenic process and the mastery of the staging systems remain essential keys in diagnosis and treatment of HCC. Recent advances in diagnosis and new treatments have made important impacts on the disease by increasing survival rates and improving quality of life for HCC patients. This paper outlines the different management aspects of HCC which include epidemiology, prevention, carcinogenesis, staging systems, diagnosis, surveillance, and the treatment.
Aberrant DNA methylation is an important epigenetic alteration in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the molecular processes underlying the methylator phenotype and the contribution of hepatitis viruses are poorly understood. The current study is a comprehensive methylation analysis of human liver tissue specimens. A total of 176 liver tissues, including 77 pairs of HCCs and matching noncancerous liver and 22 normal livers, were analyzed for methylation. Methylation of 19 epigenetic markers was quantified, and the results were correlated with different disease states and the presence or absence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. Based on methylation profiles, the 19 loci were categorized into 3 groups. Normal liver tissues showed methylation primarily in group 1 loci (HIC-1, CASP8, GSTP1, SOCS1, RASSF1A, p16, APC), which was significantly higher than group 2 (CDH1, RUNX3, RIZ1, SFRP2, MINT31) and group 3 markers (COX2, MINT1, CACNA1G, RASSF2, MINT2, Reprimo, DCC) (P < 0.0001). Noncancerous livers demonstrated increased methylation in both group 1 and group 2 loci. Methylation was significantly more abundant in HCV-positive livers compared with normal liver tissues. Conversely, HCC showed frequent methylation at each locus investigated in all 3 groups. However, the group 3 loci showed more dense and frequent methylation in HCV-positive cancers compared with both HBV-positive cancers and virus-negative cancers (P < 0.0001).
Methylation in HCC is frequent but occurs in a gene-specific and disease-specific manner. Methylation profiling allowed us to determine that aberrant methylation is commonly present in normal aging livers, and sequentially progresses with advancing stages of chronic viral infection. Finally, our data provide evidence that HCV infection may accelerate the methylation process and suggests a continuum of increasing methylation with persistent viral infection and carcinogenesis in the liver.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common human malignancies in the world, and its prognosis is generally poor. Epigenetic alteration such as DNA methylation has been shown to be important in the development of human cancers including HCC. Here, we analyzed the methylation status of ZAR1, which has been reported to be aberrantly methylated in a few human cancers.
We investigated the methylation status of ZAR1 in 88 HCV-positive HCC and matched nontumorous liver tissue samples and 4 normal liver tissue samples used as a control using MassARRAY EpiTYPER. Further statistical analysis was performed to determine the relationship between methylation level and patient clinicopathological features and prognosis.
CpG islands in ZAR1 exon 1 showed a higher methylation level in all 88 HCC than in nontumorous tissues. The hypermethylation group, whose cancer tissues showed a twofold or higher methylation level compared with nontumorous tissues, showed a significantly higher serum AFP (p = 0.018) and lower serum albumin (p = 0.001) and single rather than multiple tumors (p = 0.031) compared with the hypomethylation group. Multivariate regression analyses were performed to identify which of the following factors were the predictors of the hypermethylation group: serum albumin, AFP, and tumor multiplicity. This study showed that patients who had Zar1 hypermethylation in the HCC tissues had a significantly lower serum albumin level than those in the hypomethylation group (p = 0.007).
Although it is still unknown how ZAR1 hypermethylation affects HCC development, it could be a potential marker to detect HCV-related HCC.
Hepatocellular carcinoma; Hepatitis C virus; Methylation
Alterations in DNA methylation frequently occur in hepatocellular cancer (HCC). We have previously demonstrated that hypermethylation in candidate genes can be detected in plasma DNA prior to HCC diagnosis. To identify with a genome-wide approach additional genes hypermethylated in HCC that could be used for more accurate analysis of plasma DNA for early diagnosis, we analyzed tumor and adjacent non-tumor tissues from 62 Taiwanese HCC cases using Illumina methylation arrays that screen 26,486 autosomal CpG sites. After Bonferroni adjustment, a total of 2,324 CpG sites significantly differed in methylation level, with 684 CpG sites significantly hypermethylated and 1,640 hypomethylated in tumor compared to non-tumor tissues. Array data were validated with pyrosequencing in a subset of 5 of these genes; correlation coefficients ranged from 0.92 to 0.97. Analysis of plasma DNA from 38 cases demonstrated that 37% to 63% of cases had detectable hypermethylated DNA (≥5% methylation) for these 5 genes individually. At least one of these genes was hypermethylated in 87% of cases, suggesting that measurement of DNA methylation in plasma samples is feasible. The panel of methylated genes indentified in the current study will be further tested in large cohort of prospectively collected samples to determine their utility as early biomarkers of hepatocellular carcinoma.
Genome-wide; DNA mehtylation; Hepatocellular Carcinoma
The assessment of liver fibrosis is an important way for prediction of liver disease progression and patient’s prognosis. Liver stiffness measurement (LSM) is strongly associated with stage of liver diseases. overestimation of liver fibrosis in heart failure has been reported. We would like to introduce a new leading cause of liver fibrosis overestimation by presentation of two cases.
one case with right lobe hemangioma has an overestimation of liver fibrosis. The result completely changed when Fibroscan was performed in patient’s left lobe. Interestingly, another case with left lobe hemangioma had overestimation of fibrosis in her left lobe but, right lob Fibroscan was normal.
We found that liver hemangioma may leads to overestimation of liver stiffness and the correct inspection of liver echogenicity before any interpretation of high liver stiffness is recommended. We suggest that patient with higher level of Fibroscan score repeat it in other sides of the liver. Also, they should be evaluated by sonography for ruling out of possible confounders such as hepatic hemangioma.
Liver; Hemangioma; Fibrosis
Non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) is a complex malignancy that owing to its heterogeneity and poor prognosis poses many challenges to diagnosis, prognosis and patient treatment. DNA methylation is an important mechanism of epigenetic regulation involved in normal development and cancer. It is a very stable and specific modification and therefore in principle a very suitable marker for epigenetic phenotyping of tumors. Here we present a genome-wide DNA methylation analysis of NSCLC samples and paired lung tissues, where we combine MethylCap and next generation sequencing (MethylCap-seq) to provide comprehensive DNA methylation maps of the tumor and paired lung samples. The MethylCap-seq data were validated by bisulfite sequencing and methyl-specific polymerase chain reaction of selected regions.
Analysis of the MethylCap-seq data revealed a strong positive correlation between replicate experiments and between paired tumor/lung samples. We identified 57 differentially methylated regions (DMRs) present in all NSCLC tumors analyzed by MethylCap-seq. While hypomethylated DMRs did not correlate to any particular functional category of genes, the hypermethylated DMRs were strongly associated with genes encoding transcriptional regulators. Furthermore, subtelomeric regions and satellite repeats were hypomethylated in the NSCLC samples. We also identified DMRs that were specific to two of the major subtypes of NSCLC, adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas.
Collectively, we provide a resource containing genome-wide DNA methylation maps of NSCLC and their paired lung tissues, and comprehensive lists of known and novel DMRs and associated genes in NSCLC.
DNA Methylation; Epigenetics; MethylCap; Next generation sequencing; Non-small cell lung Cancer
Liver fibrosis represents a significant and severe health care problem and there are no efficient drugs for therapy so far. Preventing the progression of fibrogenesis and revival endogenous repair activities is an important strategy for both current and future therapies. Many studies of liver fibrosis consist of animal testing with various hepatotoxins. Although this method is often used, the model at which cirrhosis or extensive fibrosis becomes irreversible has not been well defined and is not representative of early-stage fibrogenesis. We here report the establishment of a transient and reversible liver fibrosis animal model which may better represent an early and natural fibrotic event. We used a high-speed intravenous injection of naked plasmid DNA of transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) gene which is under the control of a metallothionein-regulated gene in a pPK9A expression vector into the tail vein (the hydrodynamics-based transfer) and fed the mouse with zinc sulfate (ZnSO4)-containing water simultaneously.
Using our hydrodynamics-based gene transfer model we found that upon induction by ZnSO4, the serum TGF-β1 level in Balb/c mice and Sp1 transcription factor binding activity peaked at 48 h and declined thereafter to a normal level on the 5th day. In addition, mRNA and protein levels of TGF-β1 in the liver were also upregulated at 48 h. Furthermore, induction of TGF-β1 increased the α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), p-Smad2/3, hydroxyproline and collagen 1A2 (Col 1A2) levels in the liver, suggesting a significant liver fibrosis.
Our results show that TGF-β1 in pPK9a-transferred mice liver with ZnSO4 feeding can achieve a high expression level with significant fibrosis. However, since TGF-β1 induction is transient in our model, the fibrotic level does not reach a large scale (panlobular fibrosis) as seen in the CCl4-treated liver. Our model hence represents a dynamic and reversible liver fibrosis and could be a useful tool for studying early molecular mechanism of fibrogenesis or screening of antifibrotic drugs for clinical use.