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Lab Invest. 2003 May;83(5):635-41.

Profile of aberrant CpG island methylation along the multistep pathway of gastric carcinogenesis.

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Department of Pathology, Seoul National University College of Medicine and Cancer Research Institute, Seoul, Korea.


To date, several reports on methylation of various genes in gastric cancer (GC) have been published. However, most of these studies focused on cancer tissues or a single gene only and gave no information about the methylation status of specific genes in the premalignant stages or about the concurrent methylation of other genes in specific lesions. We attempted to investigate methylation of multiple genes in a large sample collection of GC (n = 80), gastric adenoma (GA) (n = 79), intestinal metaplasia (IM) (n = 57), and chronic gastritis (CG) (n = 74). We determined the methylation frequency of 12 genes, including APC, COX-2, DAP-kinase, E-cadherin, GSTP1, hMLH1, MGMT, p16, p14, RASSF1A, THBS1, and TIMP3 by methylation-specific PCR. Five different classes of methylation behaviors were found: (1) genes methylated in GC only (GSTP1 and RASSF1A); (2) genes showing low methylation frequency (<12%) in CG, IM, and GA, but significantly higher methylation frequency in GC (COX-2, hMLH1, and p16); (3) a gene with low and similar methylation frequency (8.8-21.3%) in four-step lesions (MGMT); (4) genes with high and similar methylation frequency (53-85%) in four-step lesions (APC and E-cadherin); and (5) genes showing an increasing tendency with or without fluctuation of the methylation frequency along the progression (DAP-kinase, p14, THBS1, and TIMP3). The average number of methylated genes was 2.7, 3.6, 3.4, and 5.2 per 12 tested genes in CG, IM, GA, and GC, respectively. Our results suggest that tumor suppressor genes show a gene type-specific methylation profile and that aberrant CpG island methylation tends to accumulate along the pathway of multistep carcinogenesis.

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