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Clin Cancer Res. 2009 Oct 1;15(19):6185-91. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-09-0111. Epub 2009 Sep 22.

Aberrant methylation of APC, MGMT, RASSF2A, and Wif-1 genes in plasma as a biomarker for early detection of colorectal cancer.

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  • 1Molecular Cell Biology, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.



To identify epigenetic molecular makers in plasma for the early detection of colorectal cancer.


We retrospectively analyzed the methylation status of 10 genes in fresh-frozen tissues and corresponding plasma samples from 243 patients with stage I and II sporadic colorectal cancer, 276 healthy individuals, and plasma from 64 colorectal adenoma patients using methylation-specific PCR. The methylation score (Mscore) was used to find molecular markers with high sensitivity and specificity.


Of the 243 colorectal cancer tissues, methylation was detected in 18% for p14, 34% for p16, 27% for APC, 34% for DAPK, 32% for HLTF, 21% for hMLH1, 39% for MGMT, 24% for RARbeta2, 58% for RASSF2A, and 74% for Wif-1. Receiver operator characteristic curve analysis in plasma from 243 patients with cancer and 276 healthy individuals showed that the M score of any single gene had a sensitivity of <40% after controlling for age, sex, and tumor location. The specificity of the M score was not different between multigene and single gene analyses, but the sensitivity of the M score was significantly increased by multigene analysis. For all patients, the M score in a model including APC, MGMT, RASSF2A, and Wif-1 genes had a sensitivity of 86.5% and a specificity of 92.1% when 1.6 was used as a cutoff. In this model, the M score had a positive predictive value of 90.6% and a negative predictive value of 88.8%.


The present study suggests that tumor-specific methylation of APC, MGMT, RASSF2A, and Wif-1 genes might be a valuable biomarker in plasma for the early detection of colorectal cancer.

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