Long interspersed nuclear element-1 hypomethylation is a potential biomarker for the prediction of response to oral fluoropyrimidines in microsatellite stable and CpG island methylator phenotype-negative colorectal cancer

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We investigated the clinical value of methylation of long interspersed nuclear element-1 (LINE-1) for the prognosis of colorectal cancer (CRC) and for the survival benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy with oral fluoropyrimidines. LINE-1 methylation in tumor DNA was measured by quantitative methylation-specific PCR in 155 samples of stage II and stage III CRC. The presence of microsatellite instability and CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) were assessed and 131 microsatellite stable/CIMP− cases were selected for survival analysis, of which 77 patients had received postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy with oral fluoropyrimidines. The CRC cell lines were used to investigate possible mechanistic links between LINE-1 methylation and effects of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). High LINE-1 methylation was a marker for better prognosis in patients treated by surgery alone. Patients with low LINE-1 methylation who were treated with adjuvant chemotherapy survived longer than those treated by surgery alone, suggestive of a survival benefit from the use of oral fluoropyrimidines. In contrast, a survival benefit from chemotherapy was not observed for patients with high LINE-1 methylation. The CRC cell lines treated with 5-FU showed increased expression of LINE-1 mRNA. This was associated with upregulation of the phospho-histone H2A.X in cells with low LINE-1 methylation, but not in cells with high LINE-1 methylation. The 5-FU-mediated induction of phospho-histone H2A.X, a marker of DNA damage, was inhibited by knockdown of LINE-1. These results suggest that LINE-1 methylation is a novel predictive marker for survival benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy with oral fluoropyrimidines in CRC patients. This finding could be important for achieving personalized chemotherapy. (Cancer Sci 2011; 102: 166–174)

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