The CpG island methylator phenotype: What's in a name?

Laura A.E. Hughes, Veerle Melotte, Joachim De Schrijver, Michiel De Maat, Vincent T.H.B.M. Smit, Judith V.M.G. Bovee, Pim J. French, Piet A. Van Den Brandt, Leo J. Schouten, Tim De Meyer, Wim Van Criekinge, Nita Ahuja, James G. Herman, Matty P. Weijenberg, Manon Van Engeland

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Although the CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) was first identified and has been most extensively studied in colorectal cancer, the term "CIMP" has been repeatedly used over the past decade to describe CpG island promoter methylation in other tumor types, including bladder, breast, endometrial, gastric, glioblastoma (gliomas), hepatocellular, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, renal cell, and prostate cancers, as well as for leukemia, melanoma, duodenal adenocarninomas, adrenocortical carcinomas, and neuroblastomas. CIMP has been reported to be useful for predicting prognosis and response to treatment in a variety of tumor types, but it remains unclear whether or not CIMP is a universal phenomenon across human neoplasia or if there should be cancer-specific definitions of the phenotype. Recently, it was shown that somatic isocitrate dehydrogenase-1 (IDH1) mutations, frequently observed in gliomas, establish CIMP in primary human astrocytes by remodeling the methylome. Interestingly, somatic IDH1 and IDH2 mutations, and loss-of-function mutations in ten-eleven translocation (TET) methylcytosine dioxygenase-2 (TET2) associated with a hypermethylation phenotype, are also found in multiple enchondromas of patients with Ollier disease and Mafucci syndrome, and leukemia, respectively. These data provide the first clues for the elucidation of a molecular basis for CIMP. Although CIMP appears as a phenomenon that occurs in various cancer types, the definition is poorly defined and differs for each tumor. The current perspective discusses the use of the term CIMP in cancer, its significance in clinical practice, and future directions that may aid in identifying the true cause and definition of CIMP in different forms of human neoplasia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5858-5868
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Research
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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