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J Cell Mol Med. 2010 Jun;14(6B):1468-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2009.00924.x. Epub 2009 Oct 3.

Familial and racial determinants of tumour suppressor genes promoter hypermethylation in breast tissues from healthy women.

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Georgetown University Medical Center, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Washington, DC 20057-1465, USA.


To determine the hypermethylation status of the promoter regions of tumour suppressor genes in breast tissues from healthy women and identify the determinants of these epigenetic changes. Questionnaires and breast tissues were collected from healthy women without a history of cancer and undergoing reduction mammoplasty (N= 141). Methylation for p16(INK4), BRCA1, ERalpha and RAR-beta promoter regions from breast tissues were determined by methylation specific PCR. Associations were examined with chi-square and Fisher's exact test as well as logistic regression. All statistical tests were two-sided. p16(INK4), BRCA1, ERalpha and RAR-beta hypermethylation were identified in 31%, 17%, 9% and 0% of the women, respectively. Women with BRCA1 hypermethylation had an eight-fold increase in the risk of ERalpha hypermethylation (P= 0.007). p16(INK4) hypermethylation was present in 28% of African-Americans, but 65% in European-Americans (P= 0.02). There was an increased likelihood of p16(INK4) or BRCA1 hypermethylation for women with family history of cancer (OR 2.3; 95%CI: 1.05-4.85 and OR 5.0; 95%CI: 1.55-15.81, respectively). ERalpha hypermethylation was associated with family history of breast cancer (OR 6.6; 95%CI: 1.58-27.71). After stratification by race, p16(INK4) in European-Americans and BRCA1 hypermethylation in African-Americans were associated with family history of cancer (OR 3.8; 95%CI: 1.21-12.03 and OR 6.5; 95%CI: 1.33-31.32, respectively). Gene promoter hypermethylation was commonly found in healthy breast tissues from women without cancer, indicating that these events are frequent and early lesions. Race and family history of cancer increase the likelihood of these early events.

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