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Gene promoter hypermethylation in tumors and lymph nodes of stage I lung cancer patients.


Clin. Cancer Res.. 2003 Apr 9 (4).

Promoter hypermethylation is an important pathway for repression of gene transcription in cancer cells and a promising marker for cancer detection. We tested five gene promoters [CDKN2A (p16), O(6)-methylguanine-DNA-methyltransferase, glutathione S-transferase P1 (GSTP1), adenomatous polyposis coli (APC), and death-associated protein kinase (DAPK)] by real-time methylation-specific PCR in primary tumors from 90 stage I lung cancer patients for aberrant DNA methylation. We then used the presence of tumor methylation as a marker to investigate the presence of occult metastasis in corresponding histologically negative lymph nodes. Of the primary tumors, 73 of 90 (81%) displayed promoter hypermethylation in at least one of the genes studied: 17% (15 of 90) at p16 (CDKN2A); 16% (14 of 90) at O(6)-methylguanine-DNA-methyltransferase; 8% (7 of 90) at GSTP1; 72% (65 of 90) at APC; and 17% (15 of 90) at DAPK. Squamous histology was predictive of worse overall survival (P = 0.074, log-rank test). APC methylation and GSTP1 methylation in the primary tumor were both correlated with nonsquamous histology (P = 0.02 and P = 0.01 likelihood ratio respectively). The presence of both APC methylation and DAPK methylation in the primary tumor predicted a worse outcome, with 7 of 13 (54%) deaths in this group compared with 21 of 77 (27%) deaths in cases without both genes methylated (P = 0.229, log-rank test). The same methylation pattern was detected in DNA from at least one of the corresponding lymph nodes in 11 of 73 (15%) cases. Five of 11 (45%) patients with occult metastasis detected by methylation analysis have died compared with 17 of 62 (27%) patients with negative lymph nodes, although survival analysis did not reach statistical significance (P = 0.632, log-rank test). Promoter hypermethylation is common in lung cancer and represents a promising marker for the molecular staging of lung cancer patients. Although this study showed important trends, a larger prospective study is required to better understand the value of methylation analysis in detecting occult metastasis.

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