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Int J Cancer. 2015 Apr 15;136(8):1845-55. doi: 10.1002/ijc.29205. Epub 2014 Sep 24.

DNA methylation array analyses identified breast cancer-associated HYAL2 methylation in peripheral blood.

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Molecular Biology of Breast Cancer, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany; Molecular Epidemiology (C080), German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany.


Breast cancer (BC) is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in women worldwide. Changes in DNA methylation in peripheral blood could be associated with malignancy at early stage. However, the BC-associated DNA methylation signatures in peripheral blood were largely unknown. Here, we performed a genome-wide methylation screening and identified a BC-associated differentially methylated CpG site cg27091787 in the hyaluronoglucosaminidase 2 gene (HYAL2) (discovery round with 72 BC case and 24 controls: p = 2.61 × 10(-9) adjusted for cell-type proportions). The substantially decreased methylation of cg27091787 in BC cases was confirmed in two validation rounds (first validation round with 338 BC case and 507 controls: p < 0.0001; second validation round with 189 BC case and 189 controls: p < 0.0001). In addition to cg27091787, the decreased methylation of a 650-bp CpG island shore of HYAL2 was also associated with increased risk of BC. Moreover, the expression and methylation of HYAL2 were inversely correlated with a p-value of 0.006. To note, the BC-associated decreased HYAL2 methylation was replicated in the T-cell fraction (p = 0.034). The cg27091787 methylation level enabled a powerful discrimination of early-stage BC cases (stages 0 and I) from healthy controls [area under curve (AUC) = 0.89], and was robust for the detection of BC in younger women as well (age < 50, AUC = 0.87). Our study reveals a strong association between decreased HYAL2 methylation in peripheral blood and BC, and provides a promising blood-based marker for the detection of early BC.


HYAL2; breast cancer; early detection; marker; methylation

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