Tumor cell-specific BRCA1 and RASSF1A hypermethylation in serum, plasma, and peritoneal fluid from ovarian cancer patients

Inmaculada Ibanez De Caceres, Cristina Battagli, Manel Esteller, James G. Herman, Essel Dulaimi, Mitchell I. Edelson, Cynthia Bergman, Hormoz Ehya, Burton L. Eisenberg, Paul Cairns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

222 Scopus citations


Because existing surgical and management methods can consistently cure only early-stage ovarian cancer, novel strategies for early detection are required. Silencing of tumor suppressor genes such as p16INK4a, VHL, and hMLH1 have established promoter hypermethylation as a common mechanism for tumor suppressor inactivation in human cancer and as a promising target for molecular detection in bodily fluids. Using sensitive methylation-specific PCR, we screened matched tumor, preoperative serum or plasma, and peritoneal fluid (washes or ascites) DNA obtained from 50 patients with ovarian or primary peritoneal tumors for hypermethylation status of the normally unmethylated BRCA1 and RAS association domain family protein 1A tumor suppressor genes. Hypermethylation of one or both genes was found in 34 tumor DNA (68%). Additional examination of one or more of the adenomatous polyposis coli, p14ARF, p16INK4a, or death associated protein-kinase tumor suppressor genes revealed hypermethylation in each of the remaining 16 tumor DNA, which extended diagnostic coverage to 100%. Hypermethylation was observed in all histologic cell types, grades, and stages of ovarian tumor examined. An identical pattern of gene hypermethylation was found in the matched serum DNA from 41 of 50 patients (82% sensitivity), including 13 of 17 cases of stage I disease. Hypermethylation was detected in 28 of 30 peritoneal fluid DNA from stage IC-IV patients, including 3 cases with negative or atypical cytology. In contrast, no hypermethylation was observed in nonneoplastic tissue, peritoneal fluid, or serum from 40 control women (100% specificity). We conclude that promoter hypermethylation is a common and relatively early event in ovarian tumorigenesis that can be detected in the serum DNA from patients with ovary-confined (stage IA or B) tumors and in cytologically negative peritoneal fluid. Analysis of tumor-specific hypermethylation in serum DNA may enhance early detection of ovarian cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6476-6481
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Research
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 15 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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