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Cancer Res. 1999 Jan 1;59(1):71-3.

Detection of aberrant p16 methylation in the plasma and serum of liver cancer patients.

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  • 1Department of Anatomical Pathology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, New Territories, SAR.


We have studied the feasibility of detecting tumor-associated aberrant p16 methylation in the circulation of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We extracted DNA from the tumor tissues and peripheral blood plasma or serum of 22 HCC patients. p16 methylation was found in 73% (16 of 22) of HCC tissues using methylation-specific PCR. Among the 16 cases with aberrant methylation in the tumor tissues, similar changes were also detected in the plasma/serum samples of 81% (13 of 16) of the cases. No methylated p16 sequences were detected in the peripheral plasma/serum of the six HCC cases without these changes in the tumor, in 38 patients with chronic hepatitis/cirrhosis, or in 10 healthy control subjects. These results suggest that circulating liver tumor DNA may be detected using tumor-associated DNA methylation changes. Because methylation abnormalities have been found in many other genes and tumor types, this approach may have implications for the noninvasive detection of a wide variety of cancers.

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