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Cancer Res. 1999 Jan 1;59(1):67-70.

Detection of aberrant promoter hypermethylation of tumor suppressor genes in serum DNA from non-small cell lung cancer patients.

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  • 1Tumor Biology, The Johns Hopkins Oncology Center, Baltimore, Maryland 21231, USA.

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  • Cancer Res 1999 Aug 1;59(15):3853.


Recent evidence suggests that tumor cells may release DNA into the circulation, which is enriched in the serum and plasma, allowing detection of ras and p53 mutations and microsatellite alterations in the serum DNA of cancer patients. We examined whether aberrant DNA methylation might also be found in the serum of patients with non-small cell lung cancer. We tested 22 patients with non-small cell lung cancer using methylation-specific PCR, searching for promoter hypermethylation of the tumor suppressor gene p16, the putative metastasis suppressor gene death-associated protein kinase, the detoxification gene glutathione S-transferase P1, and the DNA repair gene O6-methylguanine-DNA-methyltransferase. Aberrant methylation of at least one of these genes was detected in 15 of 22 (68%) NSCLC tumors but not in any paired normal lung tissue. In these primary tumors with methylation, 11 of 15 (73%) samples also had abnormal methylated DNA in the matched serum samples. Moreover, none of the sera from patients with tumors not demonstrating methylation was positive. Abnormal promoter methylation in serum DNA was found in all tumor stages. Although these results need to be confirmed in larger studies and in other tumor types, detection of aberrant promoter hypermethylation of cancer-related genes in serum may be useful for cancer diagnosis or the detection of recurrence.

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