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Adv Urol. 2012;2012:546917. doi: 10.1155/2012/546917. Epub 2012 Jun 21.

Epigenetic alterations in bladder cancer and their potential clinical implications.

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Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA.


Urothelial carcinoma (UC), the most common type of bladder cancer, is one of the most expensive malignancies to treat due to its high rate of recurrence. The characterization of the genetic alterations associated with UC has revealed the presence of two mutually exclusive molecular pathways along which distinct genetic abnormalities contribute to the formation of invasive and noninvasive tumors. Here, we focus on the epigenetic alterations found in UC, including the presence of an epigenetic field defect throughout bladders with tumors. A distinct hypomethylation pattern was found in noninvasive tumors, whereas widespread hypermethylation was found in invasive tumors, indicating the two pathways given rise to two tumor types also differ epigenetically. Since certain epigenetic alterations precede histopathological changes, they can serve as excellent markers for the development of diagnostic, prognostic, and surveillance tools. In addition, their dynamic nature and reversibility with pharmacological interventions open new and exciting avenues for therapies. The epigenetic abnormalities associated with UC would make it an excellent target for epigenetic therapy, which is currently approved for the treatment of a few hematological malignancies. Future research is needed to address efficacy and potential toxicity issues before it can be implemented as a therapeutic strategy for solid tumors.

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