Methylation pattern of ALX4 gene promoter as a potential biomarker for blood-based early detection of colorectal cancer


Department of Genetics and Molecular Biology, School of Medicine, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran


Background: To develop a non-invasive screening method for colorectal cancer, we evaluated the methylation of ALX4 gene promoter in serum samples from patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) and equal number of healthy individuals.
Materials and Methods: In serum samples from 25 patients with colorectal cancer and 25 healthy control subjects, isolated serum free-floating DNA was treated with sodium bisulfite and analyzed by methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (MSP) with primers specific for methylated or unmethylated promoter CpG island sequences of the ALX4 gene.
Results: Methylation of the ALX4 gene promoter was present in the serum DNA of patients with adenoma and colorectal cancer. A sensitivity of 68% and specificity of 88% were achieved in the detection of promoter methylation in colorectal neoplasia samples. The difference in methylation status of the ALX4 promoter between the patients with colorectal neoplasia and the control group was statistically highly significant (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: The results indicate that this serum free DNA test of methylation of the ALX4 gene promoter is a sensitive and specific method. Therefore in combination with other useful markers it seems ALX4 has the potential of a clinically useful test for the early detection of colorectal cancer.


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