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Clin Cancer Res. 2006 May 15;12(10):2995-3002.

CpG island methylation status in gastric carcinoma with and without infection of Epstein-Barr virus.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Graduate School of Medicine and Genome Science Division, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Tokyo, Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan.



EBV-associated gastric carcinoma shows global CpG island methylation of the promoter region of various cancer-related genes. To further clarify the significance of CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) status in gastric carcinoma, we investigated methylation profile and clinicopathologic features including overall survival in four subgroups defined by EBV infection and CIMP status: EBV-associated gastric carcinoma and EBV-negative/CIMP-high (H), EBV-intermediate (I), and EBV-negative (N) gastric carcinoma.


Methylation-specific PCR was applied to 106 gastric carcinoma cases. CIMP-N, CIMP-I, and CIMP-H status was determined by the number (0, 1-3, and 4-5, respectively) of methylated marker genes (LOX, HRASLS, FLNc, HAND1, and TM), that were newly identified as highly methylated in gastric cancer cell lines. The methylation status of 10 other cancer-related genes (p14, p15, p16, p73, TIMP-3, E-cadherin, DAPK, GSTP1, hMLH1, and MGMT) was also evaluated.


Nearly all (14 of 15) of EBV-associated gastric carcinoma exhibited CIMP-H, constituting a homogenous group (14%). EBV-negative gastric carcinoma consisted of CIMP-H (24%), CIMP-I (38%), and CIMP-N (24%). EBV-associated gastric carcinoma showed significantly higher frequencies of methylation of cancer-related genes (mean number +/- SD = 6.9 +/- 1.5) even if compared with EBV-negative/CIMP-H gastric carcinoma (3.5 +/- 1.8). Among EBV-negative gastric carcinoma subgroups, CIMP-H gastric carcinoma showed comparatively higher frequency of methylation than CIMP-I or CIMP-N, especially of p16 and hMLH1. CIMP-N gastric carcinoma predominantly consisted of advanced carcinoma with significantly higher frequency of lymph node metastasis. The prognosis of the patients of CIMP-N was significantly worse compared with other groups overall by univariate analysis (P = 0.0313).


The methylation profile of five representative genes is useful to stratify gastric carcinomas into biologically different subgroups. EBV-associated gastric carcinoma showed global CpG island methylation, comprising a pathogenetically distinct subgroup in CIMP-H gastric carcinoma.

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