Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Mol Cancer. 2006 Jul 10;5:27.

Can the state of cancer chemotherapy resistance be reverted by epigenetic therapy?

Author information

  • 1Unidad de Investigación Biomédica en Cáncer, Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas (IIB)/Instituto Nacional de Cancerología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico. car_plas@yahoo.com



Transcriptome analysis shows that the chemotherapy innate resistance state of tumors is characterized by: poorly dividing tumor cells; an increased DNA repair; an increased drug efflux potential by ABC-transporters; and a dysfunctional ECM. Because chemotherapy resistance involves multiple genes, epigenetic-mediated changes could be the main force responsible of this phenotype. Our hypothesis deals with the potential role of epigenetic therapy for affecting the chemotherapy resistant phenotype of malignant tumors.


Recent studies reveal the involvement of DNA methylation and histone modifications in the reprogramming of the genome of mammalian cells in cancer. In this sense, it can be hypothesized that epigenetic reprogramming can participate in the establishment of an epigenetic mark associated with the chemotherapy resistant phenotype. If this were correct, then it could be expected that agents targeting DNA methylation and histone deacetylation would by reverting the epigenetic mark induce a global expression profile that mirror the observed in untreated resistant cells.


It is proposed to perform a detailed analysis using all the available databases where the gene expression of primary tumors was analyzed and data correlated with the therapeutic outcome to determine whether a transcriptome profiling of "resistance" is observed. Assuming an epigenetic programming determines at some level the intrinsic resistant phenotype, then a similar pattern of gene expression dictated by an epigenetic mark should also be found in cell acquiring drug resistance. If these expectations are meet, then it should be further investigated at the genomic level whether these phenotypes are associated to certain patterns of DNA methylation and chromatin modification. Once confirmed the existence of an epigenetic mark associated to either the intrinsic or acquired chemotherapy resistant phenotype, then a causal association should be investigated. These preclinical findings should also be tested in a clinical setting.


Our hypothesis on the ability of epigenetic therapy to revert the epigenetic changes leading to a transcritome profile that defines the resistant state will eventually be a more rational and effective way to treat malignant tumors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Images from this publication.See all images (1)Free text

Figure 1
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk